(The Center Square) – The Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to hear Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips’ latest appeal after a lower court ruled against the Lakewood-based business owner.
Phillips, who’s represented by the conservative legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom, appealed to the state Supreme Court in April in the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Scardina after the state Court of Appeals ruled in favor of transgender attorney Autumn Scardina, who asked Phillips in 2018 to make a cake celebrating a gender transition.
Scardina’s request came on the same day in 2018 that the U.S. Supreme Court said it would hear another case involving Phillips, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The court later narrowly ruled the commission violated Phillips’ religious freedom but did not touch on whether the state’s anti-discrimination law violated his free speech rights.
ADF’s attorneys want the Colorado Supreme Court to apply the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in another Colorado case that was decided in June to Phillips’ case. In 303 Creative v. Elenis, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the state could not compel Lorie Smith, a Christian graphic designer from Colorado, to make websites that went against her religious beliefs.
“Free speech is for everyone. As the U.S. Supreme Court held in 303 Creative, the government can’t force artists to express messages they don’t believe,” ADF Senior Counsel Jake Warner said in a statement. “Because the attorney asked Jack to create a custom cake that would celebrate and symbolize a transition from male to female, the requested cake is speech under the First Amendment.”
“The Colorado Supreme Court should apply 303 Creative to reverse the appeals court’s decision punishing Jack,” he added. “You don’t need to agree with Jack’s views to agree that Americans shouldn’t be compelled to express what they don’t believe.”
In April, 21 Republican attorneys general filed a brief with the Colorado Supreme Court supporting Phillips, arguing the state’s “antidiscrimination policy does not trump that constitutionally protected right.”