Baker Jack Phillips is fighting back against the latest attempt by the state of Colorado to infringe on his right to live according to his religious beliefs.
Phillips on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled failed to treat Phillips fairly when he was sued for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, according to The Daily Caller.
Phillips, who runs the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, took his stand in 2012. The case made its way to the Supreme Court, which issued its ruling in June. The attorneys representing Phillips said the state refused to let the matter rest.
“The state of Colorado is ignoring the message of the U.S. Supreme Court by continuing to single out Jack for punishment and to exhibit hostility toward his religious beliefs,” said Kristen Waggoner, Alliance Defending Freedom’s senior vice president of U.S. legal division, in a news release.
“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 by the government for living consistently with their religious beliefs.”
The ADF said that in June 2017, Phillips was asked by attorney Autumn Scardina to create a cake that was pink on the inside and blue on the outside to celebrate Scardina’s gender transition. Phillips refused. This was among many requests to bake cakes about marijuana use or those containing sexually explicit messages and Satanic symbols, according to The Daily Caller. Phillips believes Scardina is behind all of these requests.
After the Supreme Court found in Phillips’ favor this year, the commission took action on complaints Scardina filed and decided that there is probable cause to believe that Phillips must bake the gender-transition cake Scardina requested, triggering a new round of proceedings against Phillips.
“After ‘Masterpiece’ came down from the Supreme Court, we expected Colorado to take that into account and realize that it was a bad decision to keep targeting Jack for his religious convictions,” said Jeremy Tedesco, ADF’s senior counsel and vice president of U.S. Advocacy and Administration, according to PJ Media. “Instead, they found probable cause.”
“He’s going to be fully investigated again, there will be hearings from an administrative law judge. It’s restarting the entire scenario,” Tedesco told PJ Media, explaining that to avoid that, the ADF filed suit in federal court to end proceedings now.
Tedesco said that he fears harassment against Phillips will not end.
“The most common misconception amongst people generally and people who care about religious freedom is that you can win a case and then walk away,” Tedesco told PJ Media. “We always tell our friends that our opposition doesn’t rest. I don’t think there’s any better example of that principle than this same commission taking up essentially the same case against the same man.”
“The left and progressively minded commissions like this will never rest,” Tedesco added. “It’s just a matter of eternal vigilance.”
CNS News reported that the lawsuit bases its claims on the Constitution’s protection of religious liberty.
“The Constitution stands as a bulwark against state officials who target people — and seek to ruin their lives — because of the government’s anti-religious animus. For over six years now, Colorado has been on a crusade to crush Plaintiff Jack Phillips…because its officials despise what he believes and how he practices his faith,” the lawsuit states.
“Colorado has renewed its war against him by embarking on another attempt to prosecute him, in direct conflict with the Supreme Court’s ruling in his favor. This lawsuit is necessary to stop Colorado’s continuing persecution of Phillips.”
ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell told CNS the facts of the case are clear.
“The arbitrary basis on which the state is applying its law makes clear that its officials are targeting Jack because they despise his religious beliefs and practices,” he said. “Jack shouldn’t have to fear government hostility when he opens his shop for business each day. We’re asking the court to put a stop to that.”
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