In court appeal, ADF asks for hearing to stop 'cruelty' against its client

In court appeal, ADF asks for hearing to stop 'cruelty' against its client

In court appeal, ADF asks for hearing to stop 'cruelty' against its client

Colorado business owner Jack Phillips, made famous for his victory at the U.S. Supreme Court, is being defended in a second legal fight that mirrors his first: The right to refuse to be coerced against his will on the basis of his First Amendment rights.

As we have reported on AFN, attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom have asked the Colorado Supreme Court to hear an appeal involving Phillips after he refused to design a so-called “gender transition” cake in 2018.

Phillips and his attorneys are expecting an answer early this summer. 

With the goal of helping Phillips win that court hearing, Colorado state legislators, numerous state governments, and several advocacy groups have filed friend-of-the-court briefs with the Colorado Supreme Court asking it to uphold what they call his First Amendment freedoms as owner and cake artist at Masterpiece Cakeshop. 

Back in 2017, on the very same day the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear his appeal, Phillips answered the phone at his bakery and was asked by a customer to design an unusual cake. But it wasn’t just any cake, or any customer, who called that day. The person who called Masterpiece has since been identified as “Autumn Scardina,” a Denver attorney and left-wing activist who says he is a woman.

Despite the timing and obvious motive behind Scardina’s phone call, Phillips lost in a lower court ruling in 2021 that fined him $500 for refusing to create the cake. After an appeal was upheld, ADF filed an appeal earlier this year to the Colorado Supreme Court.  

ADF senior counsel Jake Warner tells AFN no one should be forced to express a message that violates their core beliefs.

"More than a decade ago, Colorado officials began targeting Jack, misusing state law to force him to create art celebrating messages he does not believe,” Warner says. “Then an activist attorney continued that crusade. This cruelty must stop."

In the 2018 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Phillips in what was obviously a lopsided decision in his favor. A closer look at the ruling, however, showed the justices agreed the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had treated Phillips unfairly because of his religious faith. But what about his right to refuse to design a same-sex wedding cake? The high court whiffed on what could have been a landmark First Amendment ruling.

Depending on what happens in Colorado, it could be returning soon.