Religious Freedom Tastes Victory: Colorado and Christian Baker Jack Phillips End Their Legal Battle
A victory today for religious liberty.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission and Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips have reached an agreement to drop all legal action against each other. This puts an end to the state’s six-year effort to destroy Phillips’ business over his refusal to compromise his faith and create designs contrary to his religious beliefs.
The Commission first came after Phillips when he refused to create a special wedding cake for a homosexual couple. (He has no issue serving gay customers, but could not be party to a same-sex marriage.) Last June, Phillips won big in the Supreme Court, with the Justices ruling commission members showed hostility toward religious beliefs.
The victory was short-lived. The Commission immediately targeted Phillips again, this time for refusing to craft a design celebrating a gender transition. However, Phillips responded by suing the Commission for harassment. In January, a judge refused the Commission’s request to dismiss the case.
But today, a settlement was announced. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser released a statement:
After careful consideration of the facts, both sides agreed it was not in anyone’s best interest to move forward on these cases. The larger constitutional issues might well be decided down the road, but these cases will not be the vehicle for solving them. Equal justice for all will continue to be a core value that we uphold as we enforce our state’s and the nation’s civil rights laws.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Phillips, declared victory.
“The state of Colorado is dismissing its case against Jack, stopping its six and a half years of hostility toward him for his beliefs,” said ADF’s Kristen Waggoner, “Jack’s victory is great news for everyone. Tolerance and respect for good-faith differences of opinion are essential in a diverse society like ours. They enable us to peacefully coexist with each other. But the state’s demonstrated and ongoing hostility toward Jack because of his beliefs is undeniable.”
The Open Hostility Toward Religion
The Supreme Court had sided with Phillips when presented with the commission’s clear religious bias. As CBN reports, one commissioner had called Phillips a “hater” on Twitter. Worse, commissioner Diann Rice had called religious freedom itself “a despicable piece of rhetoric.”
Phillips harassment case against the commission was strengthened when ADF uncovered statements from a 2018 meeting where two commissioners defended Rice. “I also very much stand behind Commissioner Rice’s statements,” said Commissioner Carol Fabrizio, “I’m almost glad that something the Commissioner said ended up in public and used, because I think it was the right thing.”
ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell noted the danger of such thinking. “(Phillips) shouldn’t be driven out of business just because some people disagree with his religious beliefs and his desire to live consistently with them. We look forward to the day when Jack doesn’t have to fear government punishment for his faith or harassment from people who oppose his beliefs.”