Thursday, August 16, 2018

Masterpiece Cakeshop Sues Colorado In New Religious Accommodation Dispute

In the wake of the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in June, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips is again entangled in litigation.  The complaint (full text) in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Inc. v. Elenis, (D CO, filed 8/14/2018) alleges that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated Phillips' free exercise, free speech, equal protection and due process rights when on July 2 it issued a Determination (full text) that Phillips violated the state's public accommodation anti-discrimination law by refusing to bake a birthday cake that celebrates a customer's gender transition.  The district court lawsuit alleges in part:
6.... [S]ome Colorado citizens, emboldened by the state’s prosecution of Phillips, have targeted him. On the same day that the Supreme Court announced it would hear Phillips’s case, a Colorado lawyer called his shop and requested a cake designed with a blue exterior and pink interior, which the caller said would visually depict and celebrate a gender transition. Throughout the next year, Phillips received other requests for cakes celebrating Satan, featuring Satanic symbols, depicting sexually explicit materials, and promoting marijuana use. Phillips believes that some of those requests came from the same Colorado lawyer.
7. Phillips declined to create the cake with the blue and pink design because it would have celebrated messages contrary to his religious belief that sex—the status of being male or female—is given by God, is biologically determined, is not determined by perceptions or feelings, and cannot be chosen or changed. A mere 24 days after Phillips prevailed in the Supreme Court, Colorado told him that he violated Colorado law by declining to create that cake. In so doing, the state went back on what it told the Supreme Court in its Masterpiece briefing—that its public accommodation law allows Phillips to decline to create cakes with pro-LGBT designs or themes.
ADF issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit. Fox 31 News reports on the lawsuit.