Another Masterpiece Cakeshop Decision
Friday, May 30th, 2014 the Colorado Civil Rights Commission affirmed that Mr. Phillips, by not creating a wedding cake for a gay wedding, had violated Colorado Law. That case resolved in December of 2018 with the Supreme court ultimately deciding 7-2 in favor of Jack Phillips (http://www.adfmedia.org/files/MasterpieceCakeshopOpinionSCOTUS.pdf) citing that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission demonstrated impermissible religious hostility towards Mr. Phillips. Since then, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission opened a second case against Jack Phillips, but has recently dropped it, likely due to further evidence of the Commission acting with religious hostility towards Mr. Phillips.
This second case against Mr. Phillips began with an attorney’s phone call in June of 2017, the same day the Supreme Court agreed to hear Mr. Phillips’ case. The attorney wanted a custom cake to celebrate her gender transition from male to female. Mr. Phillips declined to bake the cake based on his deeply held religious beliefs. The attorney then filed a complaint against Mr. Phillips with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
Just two weeks after the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of Jack Phillips, the Commission ruled that Mr. Phillips discriminated on the basis of gender identity based on the attorney’s complaint. In response, Mr. Phillips (with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom) sued the Civil Rights Commission for harassment. He and the ADF argued that there was evidence demonstrating that the Commission continued to show impermissible religious hostility towards Mr. Phillips. Following the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had shown religious hostility, two commissioners on the Civil Rights Commission publicly announced their agreement with the previous commissioners’ comments that religious freedom was a “despicable piece of rhetoric.” Facing allegations that they were acting unlawfully in embracing this position and continuing to demonstrate religious hostility towards Mr. Phillips, the Colorado Attorney General’s office announced that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission would drop its case against Mr. Phillips on March 5, 2019.
This case has been significant to proponents of religious freedom due to the fact that, according to the Supreme Court, organizations of the state are no longer allowed to treat Christian business owners with open religious hostility. How this will affect Colorado businesses overall is still unknown, but after six and a half years of legal battles, it appears as though the fight for Mr. Phillips is finally over—at least for now.
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