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Kennedy seems conflicted in Supreme Court wedding cake case

Dec. 5, 2017 at 11:56 p.m.

People sleep outside of the Supreme Court in order to save places in line for Dec. 5 arguments in 'Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission,' Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, outside of the Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — On a sharply divided Supreme Court, the justice in the middle seemed conflicted Tuesday in the court's high-stakes consideration of a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2012.

The court's fault lines were laid bare in a riveting argument that focused equally on baker Jack Phillips' right to refuse to put his artistic talents to use in support of something in which he disagrees and the Colorado couple's right to be treated like any other two people who wanted a cake to celebrate their marriage.

Both views were reflected in the questions and comments of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the author of all the court's major gay-rights decisions and a fierce defender of free speech. The outcome of the case seemed to rest with the 81-year-old justice, who often finds himself with the decisive vote in cases that otherwise divide the court's conservatives and liberals.

On the one hand, Kennedy pointed to photographers, florists, graphic designers and even jewelers who might likewise be able to refuse working on a same-sex wedding if the court rules for Phillips.

On the other hand, Kennedy criticized the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that found Phillips violated the state's anti-discrimination law.

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