The Colorado Attorney General’s Office last week announcedthe end of a six-year legal battle to force bakery owner Jack Phillips to design cakes that violate his religious convictions. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission voted unanimously to dismiss an administrative action against Phillips and his Lakewood, Colo., bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, for refusing to make a custom cake for a gender transition celebration. Phillips, in turn, voluntarily dropped a federal lawsuit against the state. “After careful consideration of the facts, both sides agreed it was not in anyone’s best interest to move forward with these cases,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a statement on March 5.
The dismissal comes a year and a half after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Phillips in a case about another Colorado Civil Rights Commission action. In 2012, the commission cited Phillips for declining to make a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple. In its June 2018 opinion, the Supreme Court found the commission exhibited hostility toward Phillips’ Christian convictions. “The Commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral towards religion,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Despite that admonishment, the commission moved forward with another administrative action against Phillips, filed in July 2017 by a transgender individual who called the bakery requesting a custom cake—blue on the outside and pink on the inside—to celebrate gender identity. Masterpiece Cakeshop declined to make the cake, saying it expressed a message that conflicted with Phillips’ faith.
Alliance Defending Freedom lawyers representing Phillips sued state officials, arguing Colorado was once again treating Phillips with anti-religious bias. ADF lawyers had uncovered recordings of commission members endorsing the anti-religious comments of former Commissioner Diann Rice, who had called Phillips’ appeal to religious liberty a “despicable piece of rhetoric” comparable to justifications for the Holocaust and slavery.
Both the Supreme Court decision and the recent dismissal are good news for other business owners with similar pending cases.
Read more at World Magazine.