Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips believes law is on his side
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in 303 Creative v. Elenis that upheld free speech for all, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a supplemental notice Tuesday with the Colorado Supreme Court asking it to apply that ruling and similarly affirm the First Amendment rights of cake artist Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop. An activist attorney and Colorado officials have misused the same state law that was at issue in 303 Creative to punish Phillips for more than a decade.
“Free speech is for everyone. As the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed in 303 Creative, the government can’t force Americans to say things they don’t believe,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jake Warner. “That ruling makes clear that public accommodation laws like Colorado’s can remain firmly in place, but the government can’t misuse those laws to compel Jack to create custom art expressing messages he does not believe. One need not agree with Jack’s views to agree that Americans shouldn’t be compelled to express what they don’t believe.”
In April, ADF attorneys representing Phillips and his shop filed an appeal with the Colorado Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Scardina after a lower appeals court held that the state can force Phillips to express messages that violate his beliefs.
On the same day, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear Phillips’ first case — in which he prevailed in 2018 after Colorado tried to force him to create a custom cake celebrating a same-sex wedding—an activist attorney called Masterpiece Cakeshop, requesting that Phillips create a custom cake that would symbolize and celebrate a gender transition. The attorney then called again to request another custom cake, one depicting Satan smoking marijuana, to “correct the errors of [Phillips’] thinking.” Phillips declined both requests because the cakes expressed messages that violate his core beliefs. The activist then filed the current lawsuit, threatening to continue harassing Phillips until he is punished. Phillips works with all people and always decides whether to create a custom cake based on what message it will express, not who requests it.
ADF attorneys explain in the brief that “the U.S. Supreme Court held that government may not apply [the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act] to ‘compel an individual to create speech [he] does not believe.’ This rule protects [Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop] here, who the Court said are engaged in ‘nearly identical conduct’ to petitioners in 303 Creative.”