A federal judge ordered a lawsuit by cake artist Jack Phillips against the state of Colorado to proceed, but state civil rights officials who were rebuked by the U.S. Supreme Court for “hostility” toward Phillips’ Christian faith have been given a pass on subsequent hostility toward him.
The Supreme Court cased centered on Phillips refusal to create a custom cake for a same-sex wedding celebration. Now, the commission is pursing a complaint by a man who was refused a request for a cake celebrating his “gender transition.”
Phillips is suing the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, comprised of Aubrey Elenis, Anthony Aragon, Miguel Rene Elias, Carol Fabrizio, Charles Garcia, Rita Lewis, Jessica Pocock and Ajay Menon.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Wiley Daniel ruled that while Phillips’ lawsuit can proceed, the individual commissioners will face no liability for their actions, and taxpayers must pay bear the costs of any trial.
Daniel pointed out that in the first case, commission members “made disparaging comments about Phillips’ faith.” And they “treated Phillips differently from three other bakeries by allowed (sic) those bakeries to refuse a customer’s request to make a cake that would have violated their secular values, while requiring Phillips to produce a cake that would have violated sacred his beliefs.”
ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell, who argued before the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on Dec. 18, said the “same agency that the Supreme Court rebuked as hostile to Jack Phillips has remained committed to treating him unequally and forcing him to express messages that violate his religious beliefs.”
“Colorado is acting in bad faith and with bias toward Jack,” he said. “We look forward to moving forward with this lawsuit to ensure that Jack isn’t forced to create custom cakes that express messages in conflict with his faith.”
Daniel ruled there is evidence in Phillips’ complaint of further “unequal treatment.”
He explained that while the state “allow[s] other cake artists to decline requests to create custom cakes that express messages they deem objectionable and would not express for anyone,” Phillips was treated differently.
This “disparate treatment,” the court said, “reveals” the state officials’ ongoing “hostility towards Phillips, which is sufficient to establish they are pursuing the discrimination charges against Phillips in bad faith, motivated by Phillips’… religion.”
ADF explained the background of the new Civil Rights Commission complaint against Phillips.
“After an attorney who targeted Phillips complained to the state about Phillips’ decision not to create a cake designed pink on the inside and blue on the outside to celebrate and reflect a gender transition, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission – the same state agency that lost its case against Phillips at the Supreme Court in June – filed a formal complaint against him. The attorney who requested the gender-transition cake later asked Phillips to design a cake with satanic themes and images – a request that Phillips also declined because of what the cake would communicate,” the group said.
Campbell explained that Phillips “serves all customers, and he is even happy to serve the attorney who lodged the complaint against him.”
“But Jack doesn’t create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in conflict with his deeply held beliefs. He can’t get a fair shake before the state commission. A commissioner set to decide the state’s new case against Jack has publicly referred to him as a ‘hater’ on Twitter, one of several indications of the commission’s ongoing bad faith toward him and his beliefs.”
Daniel ruled, however, that the commissioners are immune from liability, and taxpayers who would be forced to pay any damages.
ADF contends the state is violating Phillips’ First Amendment free- exercise-of-religion rights by treating him differently than other cake artists and by acting with hostility toward him and his faith. ADF also asserts the state is infringing Phillips’ free speech and due process rights. The commission’s adjudicative process is flawed, ADF says, because the same commissioners act as both accusers and adjudicators in the case, an arrangement the Supreme Court condemned in 2016.
The outgoing governor, John Hickenlooper, also was given a pass by Daniel for his appointment of the commissioners who publicly attacked Phillips’ faith. But the new case will be decided with a new governor in office.
Jared Polis, a former congressman who has boasted of his gay lifestyle and spent his years in Congress promoting homosexual rights and the legalization of marijuana, is being inaugurated as governor this week.
A megamillionaire – he made some $800 million when he took the online rights to his parents’ creations for their greeting card company, Blue Mountain Arts – and sold them. In Congress, he worked with now-disgraced and resigned Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., to promote LGBT students in public schools.
WND reported last week Twitter users unleashed a tidal wave of support for Phillips and his Masterpiece Cakeshop.
The state’s second prosecution of Phillips prompted evangelical leader James Dobson to call for reform of the Colorado commission, decrying the new complaint as “a continued attack on the First Amendment and religious freedom.”