Federal Court Rules Colorado Baker Jack Phillips Can Sue the State For Targeting His Faith

Brittany M. Hughes | January 7, 2019
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A federal court ruled Friday against the state of Colorado's request to dismiss a Christian baker's lawsuit, allowing Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips to proceed with suing the state for allegedly targeting him -- again -- because of his religious beliefs.

Phillips, who won a major Supreme Court battle in 2017 after a gay couple sued him for refusing to make a cake for their same-sex wedding ceremony, was targeted the same day of the SCOTUS ruling by a transgender attorney who demanded he bake a cake celebrating the attorney’s gender “transition.”

When Phillips once again refused, the attorney filed a lawsuit, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission once again filed a legal complaint against him. If that weren’t enough, that same attorney later demanded Phillips bake a cake with satanic themes and images in a clear aim at his Christian faith.

However, the Supreme Court had previously ruled that Colorado can’t treat Phillips any different than they do any other baker who refuses to bake cakes with messages they deem objectionable. Phillips, along with his attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom, argue the state has again deliberately targeted him because of his Christian faith by not allowing him to decline certain customer orders.

Now, he’s suing them for it.

And while Colorado had moved to dismiss Phillip’s lawsuit against the state, a federal court has ruled he can proceed.

In a statement praising the federal court’s decision, ADF claims that Colorado has continued to target Phillips because he’s a Christian, adding that Phillips can’t get a fair shake in the state’s judicial process because the Colorado Civil Rights Commission – the same commission that filed the complaint – is also the commission that gets to decide if Phillips is guilty of violating anti-discrimination rules.

“A commissioner set to decide the state’s new case against Jack has publicly referred to him as a ‘hater’ on Twitter, one of several indications of the commission’s ongoing bad faith toward him and his beliefs,” ADF stated.

“ADF argues that the state is violating Phillips’ First Amendment free exercise of religion rights by continuing to treat him differently than other cake artists and by acting with hostility toward him and his faith. ADF is also arguing that the state is infringing Phillips’s free speech and due process rights, and that the commission’s adjudicative process is flawed because the same commissioners act as both accusers and adjudicators in the same case, an arrangement that the Supreme Court condemned in a 2016 decision.”