The Colorado Civil Rights Commission announced yesterday that it will dismiss its most recent charges against cake artist Jack Phillips. Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop has endured years of litigation.
On the very day the U.S. Supreme Court handed him a victory over the Commission last June, a lawyer requested Phillips make a cake celebrating a gender transition and promptly complained to the state when he was refused. The Civil Rights Commission happily filed yet another suit against the baker.
“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 Kristen Waggoner, Senior Vice President of U.S. Legal Division for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represented Phillips at the U.S. Supreme Court. “But the state’s demonstrated and ongoing hostility toward Jack because of his beliefs is undeniable.”
In a statement released Tuesday, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission stated, “After careful consideration of the facts, both sides agreed it was not in anyone’s best interest to move forward with these cases.”
“We hope that the state is done going along with
obvious efforts to harass Jack,” added ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell. “He
shouldn’t be driven out of business just because some people disagree with his
religious beliefs and his desire to live consistently with them.
The sudden change appears to have come because of mounting and undeniable evidence of bias from the commission against Jack Phillips in particular and hostility toward religion in general. In addition to the bigotry and name-calling by commissioners already known, just last week ADF discovered statements by two other commission members supporting former commissioner Diann Rice who, in 2015, compared Phillips to Nazis and said religious freedom was “a despicable piece of rhetoric.”
The commission voted unanimously to dismiss the
case, which is certainly a victory for the persecuted baker.
“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,” added Campbell.
Given the abundant hostility aimed at religious freedom from various commission members, and the fact that their statement also said that “the larger constitutional issues might well be decided down the road,” it’s likely this is only a temporary ceasefire in the larger war on constitutionally protected rights.
But it’s a victory today and, for the time being,
Jack Phillips can breathe easy.