A federal judge in California who previously ruled that a baker has a First Amendment right to decline to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple has confirmed his “judgment is final” and is “not being appealed.”
But he confirmed a state agency certainly has the right to investigate the facts of the case and to come back to his court with more information if it uncovers something.
Judge David R. Lampe said the “investigation” will “undoubtedly [be] proscribed to some degree by the court’s judgment.”
“The court having rendered its judgment, the investigation must be tailored to ascertainment and discovery of facts reasonably and rationally calculated to serve as the basis for an argument for modification of the judgment,” he wrote.
At issue is the prosecution of Tastries Bakery owner Cathy Miller.
She was accused by the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing of discriminating against a same-sex duo for declining to create a cake at their direction.
Such a message, she said, was not allowed by her Christian faith.
The issue already has been before the U.S. Supreme Court in the state of Colorado’s case against Masterpiece Cakeshop baker Jack Phillips. The high court ruled the state was antagonistic to Phillips’ Christian faith and he had a right to decline to create such a cake.
The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, which is defending Miller protested to the judge after the state lost its case, declined to appeal then announced it would begin its investigation all over again.
The judge found that the state considered his decision “preliminary.”
Wrong, the judge said.
“This was a plenary judgment, not a preliminary one,” he wrote. “This judgment is final, not being appealed.”
Charles LiMandri of the FCDF had argued that the state was on a “witch hunt,” having lost once.
The judge said the FCDF was correct to bring to him a motion to enforce his judgment.
And he explained that he continues to have jurisdiction to enforce his decision and “ensure that the rights of the parties are maintained according to the court’s judgment.”
He said his ruling does not prevent the state agency from “appropriate investigation.”
“However, just as this court must respect the DFEH’s executive authority, the DFEH, and the defendants for that matter, must respect this court’s judicial authority. This court rendered a plenary judgment addressing the constitutional rights of the defendants. Neither side may submit the matter to the court’s jurisdiction without objection, ‘take the court’s temperature,’ and then act as if the court’s judgment has not been made.”
He said he would hear arguments from the state about “compelling” testimony from the defendants, as he would hear arguments from them about “any protective order” against the state.
Having made his judgment, he said, he still has jurisdiction “to interpret the judgment and determine unresolved issues.”
And he said the state needs to listen up.
“No one can come to court, invoke its jurisdiction, acquire the court’s judgment upon the matter, and then ignore the court’s degree. The court must act to preserve its jurisdiction,” he wrote.
FCDF noted that while Lampe allowed the state to continue to investigate evidence, the decision itself is not on appeal.
“FCDF will ensure that Miller is not subjected to burdensome and worthless ‘fishing expeditions,'” the group said.