Jack Phillips is back in court, and every American has a stake in the outcome.
The owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, is best known already for winning a 2018 decision in the U.S. Supreme Court over his treatment by the state’s laughably named Civil Rights Commission and its blatant discrimination against his Christian beliefs.
Now, he’s in a courtroom again, with those same beliefs under a new attack.
Phillips’ antagonist, as ABC News reported, is a transgender attorney named Autumn Scardina, who is suing Phillips for alleged discrimination over Phillips’ refusal in 2017 to bake a cake to celebrate what Scardina described in the original complaint to the Civil Rights Commission as “my transition from male to female.”
According to ABC, the cake order came on the same day that the Supreme Court announced it would hear Phillips’ case against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which he claimed the commission was biased against his religion during a hearing over his refusal to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.
Phillips’ religious beliefs were already a matter of public knowledge. The caller who placed an order for a gender “transition” cake had to know exactly what Phillips’ reaction would be.
Yet Scardina’s attorney on Monday told the state judge in Denver that the call wasn’t a “set up” at all.
“It was more of a calling someone’s bluff,” she said, according to ABC.
Actually, it sounds like a trap.
As veteran Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn noted Monday, Scardina’s lawsuit against Phillips for refusing to bake the cake now claims the cake was for a birthday party and that Phillips’ only reason for declining the job was a bias against gays and transgenders.
That’s the pitch. But Phillips’ attorneys see something deeper at work.
“Jack is being targeted for his religious beliefs,” Kristen Waggoner, general counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, told McGurn. “His opponents are weaponizing the law to punish and destroy him because he won’t create expression that violates his Christian faith. They want to make the law an arm of cancel culture.”
A phone call from The Western Journal to Scardina’s law office Tuesday was not returned.
It’s not as though Phillips hasn’t fought back, represented by Alliance for Defending Freedom attorneys. After the openly biased Civil Rights Commission found against him on the Scardina complaint, Phillips sued the state in federal court, arguing it was on a “crusade to crush” him, according to The Associated Press.
In 2019, the state and Phillips mutually agreed to drop their cases, but Scardina remained free to sue Phillips individually. That’s the trial that started on Monday.
McGurn’s readers, at any rate, get how important the latest case is.
Why are the customers targeting him never questioned on their motives?
— Heather Goodwin (@illdoyournails) March 23, 2021
Slavery live and in person, that’s what is when you force someone to do something that they do not want to do!
— Mike Smith (@MikeSmit13474) March 23, 2021
Gay marriage won’t infringe on anyone’s rights, they said. We knew it was a lie.
— Melissa (@tchangel) March 23, 2021
Are there No Other Bakeries? Ridiculous! Are you going to a Synagogue for communion?
— PrincessTT 2021 (@Princes63000366) March 23, 2021
He’ll keep going to court as long as there are people who hate religious freedom. It seems we’ll never run out of those folks.
— Movie Churches (@Dean_Min_Travel) March 23, 2021
Conservatives understand what’s happening here — and why it’s vital.
Phillips openly proclaims his Christian beliefs, which include the sanctity of traditional marriage and the belief that it can only apply to a relationship involving one man and one woman. Therefore, he declined to make a wedding cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding.
Not too surprisingly, Phillips’ beliefs extend to the concept of transgenderism, so he declined to make a cake to celebrate a sexual “transition.” (Again, that’s how the cake is described — not as a birthday cake — in the original Civil Rights Commission complaint.)
Obviously, every American is free to agree or disagree with Phillips’ interpretation of Christianity. There are doubtless plenty of bakers — probably bakers right in Lakewood, Colorado, as McGurn noted — who consider themselves Christian and would be happy to accommodate customers celebrating a gay wedding, or a sexual “transition,” or any one of the increasingly bizarre concepts of sexuality leftists are imposing on the Western world in the 21st century.
(Those same leftists are curiously quiet when it comes to debating the merits of homosexuality and gay marriage in the Muslim world.)
But the point that matters here is that Phillips’ freedom to interpret Christianity as he chooses — and run his business accordingly — should be unquestionable in an American court as long as he is abiding by the law, which he appears to be doing.
Because he refused to make a cake for a gay wedding, he has given up making wedding cakes at all — effectively surrendering 40 percent of his business, according to McGurn and a Newsweek piece from August 2018.
(The piece also details the variety of attempts to place orders for literally satanic or pornographic cakes with Phillips’ bakery — either by Scardina or Scardina sympathizers — that can only be described as harassment.)
Now, Phillips is being sued in a court of law for maintaining those beliefs when he was maliciously put in a position where he really had no choice.
It all sounds too extreme to be happening in the United States, where the First Amendment to the Constitution ostensibly guarantees the freedom of religion. But it’s happening in Colorado, and the whole country has a stake in the outcome.
In an era when a doddering, almost-certainly corrupt Joe Biden is in the White House, with the power to name Supreme Court justices if a vacancy arises — or power-drunk Democrats go through with their court-packing plans — it might be one of many legal cases to arise targeting those whose faith is despised by the left.
“Today it’s Jack,” Phillips’ attorney told McGurn, but speaking to all Americans.
“Tomorrow it could be you.”
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