The Colorado Civil Rights Commission is going after Christian baker Jack Phillips again, this time because he refused to bake a cake celebrating transgenderism.
The CCRC’s decision to go after Phillips a second time came just months after the Supreme Court ruled the commission violated its First Amendment “obligation of religious neutrality” under the free exercise clause when it punished Phillips for not baking a cake for a same-sex wedding.
What are the details?
On June 26, 2017 — the exact same day the Supreme Court agreed to hear Phillips’ case — a lawyer called Masterpiece Cakeshop asking for a birthday cake. The lawyer requested the cake be pink on the inside and blue on the outside, explaining it would be used to celebrate the seventh anniversary of her gender transition.
Masterpiece declined to make the cake and explained it could not, in good conscience, bake a cake celebrating a transgender message. The shop offered to bake other cakes or sell the lawyer a pre-designed cake. The lawyer declined.
On July 20, 2017, the lawyer — Autumn Scardina — filed a discrimination complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission alleging Phillips discriminated against her because she is transgender.
Nearly a year later on June 28, 2018 — just 24 days after the Supreme Court ruled in Phillips’ favor — the commission moved against Phillips again, claiming it found probable cause he violated the state’s anti-discrimination law.
The commission determined Masterpiece declined to bake the cake to discriminate against Scardina, not because promoting transgenderism would violate Phillips’ religious beliefs, which he told the commission.
Is Phillips fighting back?
Late Tuesday night, the Alliance for Defending Freedom, which has represented Phillips since the cake debacle began more than six years ago, filed a lawsuit in federal district court claiming the commission is once again violating Phillips’ First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of religion, in addition to his 14th Amendment rights under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses.
The suit alleges the commission, and specifically director Aubrey Elenis, is targeting Phillips unfairly because of his Christian worldview.
“Colorado’s current practice is to treat Phillips worse than others because it despises his religious beliefs and how he practices his faith,” the complaint says, explaining:
As a general matter, if a discrimination complaint is filed against a Colorado cake artist for declining to create a custom cake expressing a message he or she opposes, Colorado defers to the cake-shop owner’s message-based objection and, consistent with what state law requires, does not “presume” that the owner discriminated against the customer based on his or her protected status.
But if a discrimination complaint is filed against Phillips for declining to create a custom cake expressing a message that conflicts with his faith, Colorado rejects his message-based objection and presumes that he discriminated against the customer based on his or her protected status.
Colorado does this even though state law requires its enforcement officials to “presume that the conduct of any [person accused of violating the public-accommodation law] is not unfair or discriminatory.”
The suit asks the court to end the commission’s “unconstitutional bullying.”
“It is now clear that Colorado will not rest until Phillips either closes Masterpiece Cakeshop or agrees to violate his religious beliefs. The state’s continuing efforts to target Phillips do not just violate the Constitution; they cross the line into bad faith. This Court should put a stop to Colorado’s unconstitutional bullying,” the suit declares.
What did Phillips say?
“The state is doubling down on its hostility against my beliefs, even though that’s what the Supreme Court said they couldn’t do. It seems I’m the only person in the state of Colorado who can’t live out my beliefs,” he said in a statement, according to the Daily Signal.
“I serve all customers. I simply decline to create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in violation of my deeply held beliefs,” he explained.