When did it become permissible for a state to “harass” one of its citizens simply because it doesn’t agree with their religious beliefs? You’d have to ask Colorado and the same Colorado baker of the Masterpiece Cakeshop that feels he’s being “punished” by the state because of his Christian beliefs.
Jack Phillips, the owner and baker of Masterpiece Cakeshop who declined to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple in 2012 is back in the news.
As you may recall, Phillips felt he couldn’t bake a cake for the couple’s wedding due to his religious belief and was subsequently sued by the couple who had filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission condemned Phillips and found that he had violated Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws.
The case ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court and ruled in Phillips’ favor.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority open:
“The Commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.”
It would appear that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission may have failed to ‘comprehend’ Kennedy’s message and the rule of law.
Phillips is once again at the center of a controversy involving his religious beliefs.
In June 2017, attorney Autumn Scardina stated she called Phillips’ bakery to request a birthday cake.
Scardina wanted the birthday cake to be blue on the outside and pink on the inside.
She told D. Phillips that the cake was “in celebration of my transition from male to female.”
According to the record, D. Phillips told Scardina that the cake could not be made due to religious beliefs and ended the conversation.
Scardina called back and spoke with someone else giving them the same specifications and why she wanted the cake.
Scardina was once again told that the cake could not be made due to religious beliefs.
Phillips has indicated in the past that he would not refuse service to anyone but that he would decline to make a cake or other baked goods that went against his religious views. He also said that he wouldn’t bake a cake that was disparaging to the gay community.
Apparently, that was not okay with Scardina who filed a complaint against Phillips (was he the only baker in town?) alleging that she was “unlawfully” discriminated against because of “her protected class because Phillips had refused to prepare her order for a cake with pink interior and blue exterior, which I disclosed was intended for the celebration of my transition from male to female.”
The complaint indicates also that Scardina was told that to “prepare such a cake would be against their (Phillips) religious beliefs.
The Colorado Civil Rights Division ruled on Scardina’s complaint.
Once again the Colorado Civil Rights Division determined that there was “probable cause” to find that Phillips’ had discriminated against Scardina in refusing to make her cake.
Phillips’ has had enough and is suing the State.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who represents Phillips is arguing that state officials are “doubling down on their anti-religious hostility” and engaging in “unconstitutional bullying.”
ADF senior vice president of U.S. legal division Kristen Waggoner said in a statement:
“The state of Colorado is ignoring the message of the U.S. Supreme Court by continuing to single out Jack [Phillips] for punishment and to exhibit hostility toward his religious beliefs.
Even though Jack serves all customers and simply declines to create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in violation of his deeply held beliefs, the government is intent on destroying him – something the Supreme Court has already told it not to do. Neither Jack nor any other creative professionals should be targeted (emphasis added) by the government for living consistently with their religious beliefs.”
Following the ruling by the Supreme Court in favor of Phillips, Hickenlooper attended a rally in support of the gay couple who had originally brought the discrimination lawsuit against Phillips.
Hickenlooper allegedly said at the rally that the Supreme Court decision doesn’t change Colorado laws against discrimination.
“Today is no different than yesterday. Nobody has a license to discriminate.”
Hickenlooper’s words from the rally may come back to haunt him.
Phillip’s complaint states:
“It is now clear that Colorado will not rest until Phillips either closes Masterpiece Cakeshop or agrees to violate his religious beliefs. The state’s continuing efforts to target Phillips do not just violate the Constitution; they cross the line into bad faith. This Court should put a stop to Colorado’s unconstitutional bullying.”
The lawsuit also alleges Scardina has been behind many disingenuous requests for custom cakes “designed to get him to decline the desired message.”
The suit seeks $100,000 from Colorado Civil Rights Division Director Aubrey Elenis for lost work, profits, reputational damage and emotional distress.
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