In further filings, Masterpiece requested that the Colorado anti-discrimination law be reviewed by the Supreme Court under strict scrutiny.
He further identified that while the state's law is to assure that same-sex couples had access to the same services as heterosexual couples, the law goes too far in its enforcement, since Craig and Mullins were easily able to obtain a wedding cake from a different vendor in the state.
While another bakery provided a cake to the couple, Craig and Mullins filed a complaint to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission under the state's public accommodations law, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, which prohibits businesses open to the public from discriminating against their customers on the basis of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
The case was decided in favor of the plaintiffs; the cake shop was ordered not only to provide cakes to same-sex marriages, but to "change its company policies, provide 'comprehensive staff training' regarding public accommodations discrimination, and provide quarterly reports for the next two years regarding steps it has taken to come into compliance and whether it has turned away any prospective customers." Masterpiece appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals with the aid of Alliance Defending Freedom, and refused to comply with the state's orders, instead opting to remove themselves from the wedding cake business; The state's decision was upheld on the grounds that despite the nature of creating a custom cake, the act of making the cake was part of the expected conduct of Phillips' business, and not an expression of free speech nor free exercise of religion.
Kennedy's decision specifically noted the hostility towards Phillips made by the Commission as their reason to reverse the ruling, but because of the existence of this hostility in the current case, they could not rule on the broader issue regarding anti-discrimination law and the free exercise of religion.
Kennedy stated that "[t]he outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market".
Kennedy's decision affirmed that there remains protection of same-sex couples and gay rights which states can still enforce through anti-discrimination laws, a point also agreed to by Ginsburg's dissent.
Experts believed the Supreme Court's opinions in the case would be divided, with the ultimate decision falling on the opinion of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has historically been a swing vote in his term. Kennedy found such comparisons "inappropriate for a Commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law".
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission, evaluating the case under its anti-discrimination law, found the bakery discriminated against the couple and issued specific orders for the bakery to follow.
The case dealt with Masterpiece Cakeshop, a bakery in Lakewood, Colorado, which refused to provide a wedding cake to a gay couple based on the owner's religious beliefs.
The brief was criticized by several organizations, including those that support LGBT rights, seeing the brief as a pattern of hostile actions by the current administration and fearing that a decision in favor of Masterpiece would enable such businesses to have a "license to discriminate". The opinion stated that although a baker, in his capacity as the owner of a business serving the public, "might have his right to the free exercise of his religion limited by generally applicable laws", a State decision in an adjudication “in which religious hostility on the part of the State itself” is a factor violates the "State’s obligation of religious neutrality" under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Oral arguments for the plaintiffs were provided by Kristen Waggoner for the Alliance Defending Freedom, representing Phillips, and the Solicitor General of the United States Noel Francisco, presenting the United States' government case as amicus curiae in support of Masterpiece Cakeshop. 310 (2010), and freedom of religion through his concurrence with the majority in Burwell v. Kennedy's opinion stated that the Commission's review of Phillips' case exhibited hostility towards his religious views.