Colorado officials have failed to change their behavior since they were scolded by the U.S. Supreme Court for “hostility” to Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips’ Christian faith.
One official has called him a “cake hater,” and the state “continues to treat Phillips unequally,” according to a brief filed in U.S. District Court on Phillips’ behalf in his lawsuit against the state.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 7-2 ruling found Colorado violated the Constitution in its expression of hostility toward Phillips’ Christian faith.
Phillips had declined to create the cake because of its message, not because of the identity of the customers. It’s a right that Colorado routinely grants to other bakers in several cases.
Phillips’ attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom are asking the federal court to order Colorado officials to stop violating the baker’s constitutional rights while his lawsuit against them proceeds.
“The state has continued to apply a double standard and demonstrate hostility toward him and his beliefs,” ADF said.
The filing says the state continues to infringe on his free exercise rights “by acting with hostility toward his religious beliefs and practices.”
Second, it violated Phillips’ free-speech rights, claiming that under its anti-discrimination law it can “demand that Phillips create cakes expressing messages contrary to his faith,” including “cakes with designs that represent and celebrate a gender transition and that express support for Satan.”
Third, it is refusing him due process rights.
“Colorado’s attempt to drag Phillips through another commission proceeding, one initiated by a lawyer who has harassed Phillips with multiple requests, right after the Supreme Court condemned the state’s hostility toward him cannot live up to that stringent standard,” the filing states.
At virtually the same the Supreme Court ruled in Phillips’s favor, the state launched a new investigation against the baker regarding a complaint that he refused to create a cake honoring a sex transition.
The same customer demanded Phillips create a cake celebrating Satan.
“The same agency that the Supreme Court just said is hostile to Jack Phillips remains committed to treating him unequally and forcing him to express messages that violate his religious beliefs,” said ADF Senior Vice President of U.S. Legal Division Kristen Waggoner, who argued on behalf of Phillips before the Supreme Court in his first case.
“Jack serves all customers, and he is happy to serve the attorney who lodged the complaint against him. But Jack doesn’t create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events that contradict his deeply held beliefs. Apparently, that isn’t enough for the commission. It insists on forcing Jack to celebrate ideas and events that violate his faith.”
ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell, who along with Waggoner is representing Phillips in his recently filed federal lawsuit, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Elenis, said that even thought the state “is refusing to respond to public-records requests and fighting to keep us from obtaining basic information about the commission, we have already discovered that a current commissioner has publicly referred to Jack as the ‘cake hater.'”
“Jack has no chance of obtaining justice before people who say such things. That’s why we’re asking the federal court to put an end to the state’s efforts to punish him.”
Colorado officials have demanded that the court dismiss Phillips’ lawsuit, prompting ADF to ask for a preliminary injunction against the state.
“Colorado has done nothing to disavow or correct the commission’s systemic and deep-seated opposition toward Phillips and his faith. Without Phillips having the chance to conduct discovery or obtain public records, evidence already confirms that it remains.”
ADF contends the state’s “continued bias against Phillips and his religious beliefs,” and asks that the federal court intervene.
The Supreme Court noted the state exhibited blatantly unequal treatment, allowing bakers to refuse Bible messages while punishing Phillips for refusing to create a cake with a message to which he objected.
ADF said some of the state officials charged with making decisions in Phillips’ case have been associated with an LGBT advocacy organization.
They were selected by Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to act in such cases, despite their evidence of bias.
A Colorado congressman has asked the Department of Justice to investigate the state commission.
Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., has asked U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to intervene.
“Both Mr. Phillips and Masterpiece serve everyone. All people – no matter who they are, what they believe or what protected class they belong to – are welcome in Mr. Phillips’ shop and may purchase anything available for sale,” the congressman argued. “But as a devout Christian, Mr. Phillips cannot create custom cakes the express messages or that celebrate events in conflict with his deeply held religious beliefs.
“We are a stronger as a nation because of the societal contribution of religious Americans like Jack Phillips. Mr. Phillips and other creative professionals should not be targeted by the government for living consistently with their deeply held beliefs just because an agency director or the government doesn’t like those beliefs.”
The state’s second prosecution of Phillips prompted James Dobson, the noted Christian psychologist and founder of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute, to call for reform of the commission, decrying the new claim as “a continued attack on the First Amendment and religious freedom.