The U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to take another helping of cake.
Only months after the justices determined that the state of Colorado was hostile to Jack Phillips’ Christian faith in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, in which he was given permission to refuse to provide a custom cake to a same-sex duo, a couple in Oregon whose bakery was killed by the state over the same issue is asking for review.
Lawyers for First Liberty Institute filed a petition on behalf of Aaron and Melissa Klein, asking for a review and reversal of the state’s $135,000 penalty, which put them out of business.
“Freedom of speech has always included the freedom not to speak the government’s message,” said First Liberty President Kelly Shackelford. “This case can clarify whether speech is truly free if it is government mandated.”
Assisting is C. Boyden Gray, who also is a First Liberty network lawyer.
“Free Americans should not be compelled by the government to create a message that conflicts with their deepest convictions,” he said.
The Masterpiece case centered on Colorado’s hostility to Christianity.
“In this case, the court has the opportunity to resolve perhaps the most critical issue the Masterpiece court left unresolved: whether the government can compel citizens to create a message contrary to their religious beliefs,” the legal team said.
It was the Bureau of Labor and Industries in Oregon that found that the Kleins violated Oregon’s public accommodations statute when they declined to design and create a wedding cake honoring same-sex marriage.
In addition to the $135,000 penalty for “emotional damages,” the state issued a gag order that prevented the Kleins from talking about their case.
The most recent decision in the Oregon case came from the state Supreme Court, which upheld the order that killed the business.
The Kleins explained to the couple, Rachel Bowman-Cryer and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, that providing a wedding cake would violate their Christian beliefs. But the same-sex pair filed complaints with the Oregon Department of Labor and Industries. The agency investigated and awarded the $75,000 in damages to one and $60,000 in damages to the other.
Court records said then-Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian “made numerous public comments on social media and in media interviews revealing his intent to rule against them.”
“He stated that the Kleins had ‘disobey[ed]’ Oregon law and needed to be ‘rehabilitate[d].'”
Last summer, the blatant hatred for Christian faith exhibited by a member of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was cited in the 7-2 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of Phillips.
In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that “the record here demonstrates that the commission’s consideration of Phillips’ case was neither tolerant nor respectful of his religious beliefs.”
The state of Colorado not only ordered Phillips to make cakes for same-sex couples, it required him to undergo a reindoctrination program.
State officials were given a tongue-lashing by the high court.
“The commission’s treatment of Phillips’ case … showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection. As the record shows, some of the commissioners at the commission’s formal, public hearings endorsed the view that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, disparaged Phillip’s faith as despicable and characterized it as merely rhetorical, and compared his invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust,” the U.S. Supreme Court said.
“No commissioners objected to the comments,” the ruling noted.
In fact, the state commission’s hostility toward Christian beliefs became evident at the outset of the case, when one member, Diann Rice, publicly exhibited bias against Phillips during a hearing, comparing him to a Nazi.
“I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting,” Rice said during consideration of Phillips’ case. “Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be – I mean, we – we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others.”
WND reported evangelist Franklin Graham commented on the state’s antagonism toward the Kleins in the Oregon case.
On Facebook, he wrote: “This is unbelievable! … Brad Avakian, Oregon’s Bureau of Labor & Industries Commissioner, upheld [the previous] ruling that the Kleins have to pay the lesbian couple $135,000 for a long list of alleged damages including: ‘acute loss of confidence,’ ‘high blood pressure,’ ‘impaired digestion,’ ‘loss of appetite,’ ‘migraine headaches,’ ‘pale and sick at home after work,’ ‘resumption of smoking habit,’ ‘weight gain,’ and ‘worry.’ Give me a break. In my opinion, this couple should pay the Kleins $135,000 for all they’ve been through!”
Graham, the CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Association, said even “more outrageous is that Avakian has also now ordered the Kleins to ‘cease and desist’ from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs.’
“This is an outright attack on their #freedomofspeech. A senior attorney with The Heritage Foundation was absolutely right when he said, ‘It is exactly this kind of oppressive persecution by government officials that led the pilgrims to America.'”