SC applicants agree with U.S ruling favoring baker in gay wedding cake case
MANILA, Philippines – Three applicants for a spot on the bench at the Supreme Court (SC) said that they agree with the ruling of the United States Supreme Court which upheld the religious right of a Christian baker to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.
Badelles, Garcia, and Javier were asked about their thoughts on the landmark case during the public interviews on Thursday, June 14, by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) which is screening applicants for the SC.
The applicants are vying for the post that will be vacated by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr when he retires on August 8.
“It’s the balancing of interests, between the right of one to religious belief and against another right. The right to religious belief in the hierarchy of values should prevail,” Garcia said.
Badelles said: “It has been ruled in the SC that freedom of religion has higher preference than other civic political rights in the Constitution. It does not prevent them from looking for another baker that could make that cake.”
For her part, Javier said that the Supreme Court should not tackle the question of whether it violated the Bill of Rights, insofar as discrimination towards the gay couple goes, because the alleged violation was not committed by the State, but by a private individual.
“I may be discriminating but I am into business, and I have the absolute right to choose to whom I should sell and bake,” Javier said, answering a hypothetical question if she were the baker.
Equal protection clause
It was retired SC justice Jose Mendoza, now a JBC member representing the sector of retired justices, who asked them the question.
Mendoza asked if the baker violated the equal protection clause.
In established legal principles, the equal protection clause will not apply if these 4 conditions are satisfied:
- It must rest on substantial distinctions
- It must be germane to the purposes of law
- It must not be limited to existing conditions only
- It must apply equally to all members of the same class
Garcia said that there is a substantial distinction in the baker’s case, and thus the equal protection clause will not apply.
Substantial distinction means all members of that class shall be similarly treated.
“Other customers that will request the same order regardless of the specifications, that baker may necessarily refuse those in the same class. He is not being singled out, any other customer who walks in and asks for an order to make a cake, I’m sure that same baker will refuse the same order on the ground that it is contrary to his religious belief,” Garcia said.
When Mendoza pointed out that the baker’s license to operate his business was given by the State, Javier said that the alleged discrimination would not take away one’s right to engage in business.
“My freedom of choice is an inherent limitation to the franchise that is given me by the State,” Javier said.
In taxation principle, inherent limitations are limitations that do not need an enabling law to be able to restrict the power of taxation. Javier means that the baker’s freedom to choose is one such inherent limitation; that it does not need an enabling law to restrict the government franchise.
These discussions come days before the Supreme Court tackles a petition seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in historic oral arguments. – Rappler.com