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Colorado baker’s battle not over yet

Jack Phillips appeals ruling on gender-transition cake


Jack Phillips at Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo. Associated Press/Photo by David Zalubowski (file)

Colorado baker’s battle not over yet

Colorado baker Jack Phillips’ nearly decadelong struggle to follow his Christian convictions on marriage and sexuality is not over yet. A Colorado state court judge found Tuesday that the embattled cake artist discriminated against Autumn Scardina when he declined to design a cake celebrating Scardina’s gender transition. Phillips will appeal the ruling.

Denver District Judge A. Bruce Jones rejected the argument that designing a cake with an objectionable message would be unconstitutional compelled speech. In a 28-page opinion, Jones concluded the case was about a product, not a message, that Phillips declined to sell Scardina a pink and blue birthday cake because of the activist attorney identifies as transgender.

“The anti-discrimination laws are intended to ensure that members of our society who have historically been treated unfairly, who have been deprived of even the every-day right to access businesses to buy products, are no longer treated as ‘others’,” Jones wrote.

In June 2017, Scardina called Phillips to request a birthday cake with a pink interior and blue exterior to reflect Scardina’s “transition from male-to-female.” Scardina, a man who identifies as a woman, filed a discrimination charge with the Colorado Civil Rights Division in July 2017 after Phillips declined to design the cake.

In June 2019, Scardina also filed a false advertising complaint against Phillips. Jones rejected that argument in March. But at the time, he expressed doubt that “the act of making a pink cake with blue frosting … would convey a celebratory message about gender transitions likely to be understood by reasonable observers.” Tuesday’s post-trial ruling confirmed that initial conclusion.

The setback is the latest chapter in the Masterpiece Cakeshop baker’s very public fight to follow his convictions. In 2012, the state’s Civil Rights Commission cited him for declining to make a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple in a case that eventually resulted in a 2018 Supreme Court ruling in Phillips’ favor. The commission charged him again over the Scardina matter before dismissing its case in March 2020. But Scardina pressed on.

Alliance Defending Freedom counsel Ryan Bangert, who helped with Phillips’ defense, said the court improperly allowed Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act to effectively trump the First Amendment. “The court is basically saying, ‘Jack Phillips, you are required by law to allow your artistic skills and abilities to be commandeered by a customer to create a specific message,’” Bangert said. “That’s not right.”


Steve West

Steve is a legal correspondent for WORLD. He is a graduate of World Journalism Institute, Wake Forest University School of Law, and N.C. State University. He worked for 34 years as a federal prosecutor and is now an attorney in private practice. Steve resides with his wife in Raleigh, N.C.

@slntplanet

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OldMike

Seems to me that if various “injured” parties and the Colorado courts just keep coming after Jack Phillips over and over, that IS persecution. And yes, cruel and abusive.

Pray for Jack, and others dealing with similar situations.

Big Jim

Stand strong in the faith, Jack. Follow your convictions. Seek to please God and not man.

I will be praying for you.

old guy

If someone asked for a pink and blue cake, how would Mr. Phillips know it was for a transgender transition unless the customer told him? If the customer told him, wouldn't that give Mr. Phillips a reasonable opportunity to say that it went against his Christian faith and he had to respectfully decline to make the cake? To force someone to do something that is in opposition to their core beliefs seems dreadfully cruel and abusive. So I conclude that the customer and the California legal systen are both.

WFRA5346

Lord, please give help and strength to Jack Phillips!