". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Cake Artist Jack Phillips Undergoes Third Court Case in 12 Years Defending His Religious Freedom

June 24, 2024

Jack Phillips is a man of faith as well as a custom design cake specialist. However, due to Christian convictions, Phillips declined to make a cake that celebrated a same-sex wedding, which led to the cake designer being sued by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC). As such, he’s now spent the last 12 years defending his religious freedom, with last week marking the third court case he’s gone through since this battle began.

The first case, which first occurred in 2012, wasn’t settled until 2018 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Phillips’s favor. And yet, only weeks later, CCRC sued him again when he declined “to create a custom cake celebrating and symbolizing a so-called ‘gender transition,’” Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) summarized. However, those charges were dismissed after ADF attorneys filed a federal lawsuit. This brings us to the third case thus far, wherein Phillips was dragged back to court after the person who requested the “gender transition” cake took it upon himself to sue the decorator.

ADF, who has been representing Phillips, wrote that despite the longevity of these circumstances, “Jack is not backing down.” As the legal group expressed, “[O]ver the course of Jack’s legal journey, one thing has become abundantly clear: for some, it will never be enough to politely agree to disagree about important issues. … It wasn’t enough for Jack to lose a big part of his business after Colorado targeted him the first time,” nor “to have to defend his freedoms all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court,” nor “for Jack and his family to endure years of harassment and even death threats. For some, it won’t be enough until Masterpiece Cakeshop closes its doors. They want Jack, a quiet, hardworking cake artist, to pay a hefty price — all because he wants to express messages according to his faith.”

No final ruling has been issued from last week’s oral arguments, but Phillips and ADF Senior Counsel Jake Warner joined Family Research Council’s Jody Hice on Friday’s episode of “Washington Watch” to provide further insight to the case. As Warner emphasized, the arguments that took place last week “before the Colorado Supreme Court” advocated “free speech is for everyone.” He added, “[T]he government should not be able to force people like Jack to express messages they don’t believe.”

Hice posed the question: What are we to “make of this … continual, nonstop push that comes from the Left against people of faith?” Warner answered, “For the past 10 years or so, government officials and activists have been misusing state law to force people like Jack to express messages they don’t believe. It’s a misuse of the law.” And yet, even with the consistent pushback, Warner did note that, “thankfully, just last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 303 Creative [LLC v. Elenis] that the government can’t misuse the law to force people to say things they don’t believe.” Ultimately, he’s “hopeful” this is a step in the right direction, and “we hope that this harassment will stop once and for all.”

But as Hice pointed out, in addition to Phillips’s case, there are others who are also going through backlash for wanting to hold fast to their convictions. He asked Phillips, “What would you say to those who may be facing similar opposition across the country?” According to Phillips, it’s a matter of “know[ing] what your boundaries are and don’t step over them.”

As he explained, “[W]e serve everybody at Masterpiece Cakeshop, but we just aren’t able to express every message that people want us to with our custom cakes.” This is something the shop had decided “over 30 years ago” before they opened that certain cakes would be declined. “But it was always the message of the cake, not the person asking for it.” Hice also emphasized that when you have established values, it’s necessary to “stand up when they’re challenged.”

Considering how long Phillips has been persecuted, sued, and experiencing backlash, Hice asked how he could be prayed for. Phillips answered that first and foremost, “a lot of the prayers should go to the judges. They have a big task ahead of them. They want to get the decision right, and they want to make sure they write it all correctly so that the laws that they enforce here are laws that we can all live with, and freedom is maintained for all Americans.”

Hice agreed, noting that this case “impacts every one of us and it sets a pathway of religious liberties across our country.” As such, he added, “[W]hat kind of rippling effect might we expect” from whatever decision comes from the Colorado Supreme Court? “Well,” Warner stated, “certainly for the people in Colorado, a win for Jack would be a win for all people. It would confirm that Colorado officials cannot misuse state law to punish people that they disagree with. Free speech would truly be for everyone.”

He concluded, “Of course, if this case doesn’t come out the right way, we would appeal up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where we hope that the court would reaffirm 303 Creative’s holding that free speech is for everyone and put an end to this injustice.”

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.