Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips has found himself back in court—despite his win at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018.
Just a few months after that Supreme Court victory, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission decided to pursue another complaint against Phillips. This time, local attorney Autumn Scardina (a biological male) had asked Phillips to create a custom pink and blue cake to celebrate his gender transition. Phillips, who holds Biblical views on marriage and sexuality, respectfully declined.
“Jack is being targeted for his religious beliefs,” said Kristen Waggoner, general counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, who defended Phillips in his first case and continues to represent him. “His opponents are weaponizing the law to punish and destroy him because he won’t create an expression that violates his Christian faith. They want to make the law an arm of cancel culture.”
On March 4, Denver District Court Judge A. Bruce Jones tossed one of the two claims Scardina brought against Phillips involving an alleged violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act, but allowed the central discrimination assertion to stand.
“The decision by the court to dismiss one of the claims against Jack Phillips is the first step towards final justice,” Waggoner said. “Jack has been threatened with financial ruin simply because he makes decisions about which messages to create and celebrate—decisions that every other artist in Colorado is free to make. Tolerance for different opinions is essential. We look forward to defending Jack—and ultimately prevailing—on the remaining claim.”
According to The Federalist, Scardina explained in court on March 22 how at one point, while his discrimination claim was being processed by the state, he called Masterpiece Cakeshop to request a custom cake that featured Satan smoking a joint. Scardina wanted to see if Phillips’ had singled him out because of his gender identity or if Phillips simply refused to bake cakes that included messages contrary to his religious beliefs and moral values.
Although the staff at the shop politely declined to make the cake, “they indicated that I was welcome back in their shop and entitled to the same treatment as every other customer that telephones or comes through its doors,” Scardina admitted.
Waggoner warned that the outcome of this case has broad implications for religious liberty in America.
“Today it’s Jack,” she told the Wall Street Journal. “Tomorrow it could be you.”
Photo: Courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom