Attorney vows appeal: “Jack Phillips serves all people but shouldn’t be forced to create custom cakes with messages that violate his conscience.” In the meantime, Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop have to bake the cake, or risk further lawsuits and fines.
The last time we checked in on the woke war on Masterpiece Cakeshop and its owner Jack Phillips, a state court trial was ongoing, Masterpiece Cake Shop On Trial For Refusing To Bake A “Transition” Cake.
That post summarized the history:
Masterpiece Cake Shop famously won a U.S. Supreme Court case over it’s owner Jack Phillips’ refusal to bake a cake that celebrated a same-sex marriage. Phillips said while he would sell anyone a cake, requiring him to put lettering on it celebrating the marriage violated his religious beliefs and was unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court ruled in his favor, though it didn’t announce any sweeping principles of law.
But it wasn’t over, the cakeshop was sued again by the State of Colorado after the same person requested a “gender transition” cake, Colorado goes after Masterpiece Cakeshop again – this time over “gender transition” cake.
The state eventually dropped the case, Masterpiece Cakeshop wins again – CO drops prosecution for refusal to bake ‘gender-transition cake’, but the woman sued privately, Masterpiece Cakeshop Sued A Third Time, Ostensibly Over “Gender Transition” Cake.
That was the last time we covered the attacks on the cakeshop, but that third case just popped up on the news because it is in trial.
On June 15, 2021, state court judge A. Bruce Jones rendered the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (pdf.), imposing a $500 fine for violation of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.
The Judge rejected the legal defense of freedom of religion and freedom from compelled speech:
In arguing that they should prevail in this matter, Defendants quote the stirring words of
Justice Jackson in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette: “If there is any fixed star
in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be
orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess
by word or act their faith therein.” 319 U.S. 624, 642 (1943). But as Defendants also argue,
context matters. In Barnette, government officials insisted that the children of Jehovah’s
Witnesses salute the flag—a basic form of compelled patriotism through symbolic speech. Id. at
627-30. That is quite different than preventing places of public accommodation from discriminating against transgender persons. The anti-discrimination laws are intended to ensure
that members of our society who have historically been treated unfairly, who have been deprived
of even the every-day right to access businesses to buy products, are no longer treated as
“others.” This case is about one such product—a pink and blue birthday cake—and not
Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Phillips and the cakeshop, vowed to appeal:
“Jack Phillips serves all people but shouldn’t be forced to create custom cakes with messages that violate his conscience. In this case, an activist attorney demanded Jack create custom cakes in order to ‘test’ Jack and ‘correct the errors’ of his thinking, and the activist even threatened to sue Jack again if the case is dismissed for any reason. Radical activists and government officials are targeting artists like Jack because they won’t promote messages on marriage and sexuality that violate their core convictions. This case and others—including the case of floral artist Barronelle Stutzman, whose petition is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court—represents a disturbing trend: the weaponization of our justice system to ruin those with whom the activists disagree. The harassment of people like Jack and Barronelle has been occurring for nearly a decade and must stop. We will appeal this decision and continue to defend the freedom of all Americans to peacefully live and work according to their deeply held beliefs without fear of punishment.”
Because this case is in state court, the only way it gets to the U.S. Supreme Court is once the Colorado Supreme Court rules, and then only if SCOTUS agrees to hear the case. The prior case was not resolved by SCOTUS on the merits, more on procedural grounds. The conservative majority on SCOTUS, not including John Roberts, has been good on freedom of religion cases involving coronavirus lockdowns, so there may be an appetite to take this one. But it will be a year or two before we find out.
In the meantime, Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop have to bake the cake, or risk further lawsuits and fines.
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