The state of Colorado is at it again. And Jack Phillips is fighting back.
Just 24 days after the United States Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that Phillips could decline to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding because of his religious convictions, the state of Colorado informed him that he had violated the law by declining to create a custom cake that would have celebrated the gender transition of attorney Autumn Scardina, whose website says the lawyer “take[s] great pride” in suing businesses that allegedly discriminate against the LGBT community.
In response, Phillips is suing the state officials who are behind this latest attack.
“The state of Colorado is ignoring the message of the U.S. Supreme Court by continuing to single out Jack for punishment and to exhibit hostility toward his religious beliefs,” said Kristen Waggoner, senior vice president of U.S. Legal Division for Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Phillips. “Even though Jack serves all customers and simply declines to create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in violation of his deeply held beliefs, the government is intent on destroying him—something the Supreme Court has already told it not to do.”
On Aug. 14, Phillips filed a lawsuit in the federal district court for Colorado. The 52-page complaint presents compelling examples of the state’s hostility toward Phillips, its disregard for the recent Supreme Court decision and several blatantly contradictory statements it has made in its attempts to punish Phillips.
For example, in its briefing to the Supreme Court in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, the state said that if Phillips would not sell a cake with a particular theme to anyone, regardless of that customer’s protected status, then he need not sell one to any particular customer. Further, the state said he is allowed to reject an order that he finds offensive. On both counts, this is exactly the case here, yet now the state is arguing that Phillips has violated the law by not creating the cake for Scardina.
Some observers have speculated that the state may have been emboldened to go after Phillips again in part because of the concurring opinion by Justice Elena Kagan in the first case. They argue that Kagan was essentially explaining to the state how it might have prevailed in its attempt to punish Phillips if only it had demonstrated less hostility to his Christian faith.
“It’s hard to predict what the court will do,” said Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation. “But what the court shoulddo is to say that the government can’t force someone to affirm an orthodoxy. And in this case, the government’s trying to force Jack Phillips to affirm an orthodoxy that’s pro-LGBT.”