Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips, the baker who prevailed in the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court case involving declining to create a custom cake for a same-sex marriage, has lost an appeal in a separate case involving declining to create a custom cake celebrating gender transition.
"Free speech is for everyone. No one should be forced to express a message that violates their core beliefs," said Alliance for Defending Freedom's senior counsel Jake Warner in the non-profit legal organization's Thursday press release.
Warner argued before the Colorado Court of Appeals on Phillips' behalf in the most recent case, Scardina v. Masterpiece Cakeshop. Scardina requested the transgender celebration cake on June 25, 2017, the same day the Supreme Court announced it would hear the original case involving the same-sex marriage cake.
The Scardina case arose when customer and attorney Autumn Scardina requested a custom pink cake with blue frosting, according to a Colorado Court of Appeals published opinion summary. After the shop indicated it could make the cake, Scardina told the shop it was intended to celebrate transgender identity. The shop then declined to make the cake, and Scardina brought an action against the shop and Phillips under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.
"The division concludes that the act of baking a pink cake with blue frosting does not constitute protected speech under the First Amendment," the summary reads in part.
"... the division concludes that CADA’s prohibition against discrimination based on a person’s transgender status does not violate a proprietor’s right to freely exercise or express their religion," the summary also says.
Phillips' attorneys plan to appeal the most recent decision that would punish the baker and compel him to create the transgender identity celebration cake. They also note that the Scardina case involves an "activist attorney" who continued Colorado's "crusade" against the cake artist and business owner who is determined to live according to his faith, even in the face of death threats and harassment.
"Over a decade ago, Colorado officials began targeting Jack, misusing state law to force him to say things he does not believe ... This cruelty must stop ... Cultural winds may shift, but freedom of speech is foundational to our self-government and to the free and fearless pursuit of truth," Warner added.
The same law which would compel Phillips to violate his sincerely-held beliefs is at the core of another, current U.S. Supreme Court case, 303 Creative vs. Elenis. In the 303 Creative case, Colorado is also attempting to "mandate orthodoxy and drive views it disfavors from the public square," according to the ADF.
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