Christian Baker Who Refused To Make LGBT Cake Scores Legal Victory

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Oct 11, 2023 - 10:05 PM

Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips has scored a victory of sorts in his ongoing lawsuit for refusing to bake a gender transition cake, with the Colorado Supreme Court agreeing to hear his appeal.

Baker Jack Phillips decorates a cake in his Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., on Sep. 21, 2017. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)

Last week, in a win for Mr. Phillips' years-long legal fight, the Colorado Supreme Court finally agreed to hear his case after a lower court held that Colorado authorities can force the baker to put messages on cakes that violate his personal beliefs, according to a case announcements posting.

Mr. Phillips, who in 2018 won a case before the U.S. Supreme Court in a lawsuit for declining to bake a custom cake for a same-sex wedding, was sued once again in 2019 for refusing to create a cake for a transgender lawyer celebrating a gender transition.

The attorney, Autumn Scardina, also demanded that Mr. Phillips create a custom cake depicting Satan smoking marijuana, according to court filings.

But Mr. Phillips declined, saying he would not create cakes expressing those messages for anyone.

Then, a lower appeals court held that Colorado authorities could compel Mr. Phillips to put messages on his cakes that go against his religious convictions, prompting Mr. Phillips' attorneys to file an appeal in April with the Colorado Supreme Court.

Subsequently, in July 2023, following a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of a Christian website designer who argued that Colorado's law requiring her to create websites celebrating same-sex weddings infringed on her constitutional rights, Mr. Phillips' attorneys filed a supplemental notice with the state Supreme Court, asking for a hearing.

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In the supplemental filing, Mr. Phillips' attorneys asked the Colorado Supreme Court to apply the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 303 Creative v. Elenis and similarly affirm Mr. Phillips' constitutional right to free speech.

And so on Oct. 3, in a victory for Mr. Phillips' legal battle, the Colorado Supreme Court finally agreed to hear his case.

Free speech is for everyone. As the U.S. Supreme Court held in 303 Creative, the government can’t force artists to express messages they don’t believe,” Jake Warner, senior counsel for the Alliance for Defending Freedom (ADF), said in a statement.

“Because the attorney asked Jack to create a custom cake that would celebrate and symbolize a transition from male to female, the requested cake is speech under the First Amendment," he added.

"You don’t need to agree with Jack’s views to agree that Americans shouldn’t be compelled to express what they don’t believe,” he added.

Mr. Phillips told Fox News in an interview that he hopes the Colorado Supreme Court's decision to hear the case gives him hope for an end to his years-long legal fight.

"I hope it is the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m pretty excited about it," Mr. Phillips told Fox News in an interview.

"The state court turned us down in our first case, but I think they realize now that I serve everybody," he added.

The Colorado Supreme Court has yet to schedule oral arguments in the case.

Mr. Phillips said the case is about his right to express his religious freedom and to "do so without fear of punishment in the marketplace."

Supreme Court Decision In Web Designer Case

In June 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of Christian web designer Lorie Smith, who said she would design a website for anyone—including if they identify as LGBT—so long as the requested content doesn't run afoul of her religious beliefs.

Ms. Smith said that, when clients asked her to include messages that are pro-abortion or same-sex marriage—both views that conflict with her personal convictions—she would refer them to other designers.

Concerned that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission would use the state's anti-discrimination statute to force her to create websites that convey messages that she disagrees with, she challenged the law to protect free speech.

Like Mr. Phillips, Ms. Smith was represented by ADF.

Lorie Smith, a Christian graphic artist and website designer in Colorado, prepares to speak to supporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Dec. 5, 2022. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

In July 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled against Ms. Smith, holding that the state has the right to force her to create websites with messages that violate her religious beliefs.

Her attorneys appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court—and won.

Like many states, Colorado has a law forbidding businesses from engaging in discrimination when they sell goods and services to the public. Laws along these lines have done much to secure the civil rights of all Americans," Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the 26-page majority opinion (pdf), with the court's three liberal justices dissenting.

"But in this particular case, Colorado does not just seek to ensure the sale of goods or services on equal terms. It seeks to use its law to compel an individual to create speech she does not believe. The question we face is whether that course violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.”

“In this case, Colorado seeks to force an individual to speak in ways that align with its views but defy her conscience about a matter of major significance,” Mr. Gorsuch wrote.

“The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands,” he added.