Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Jack Phillips Said 'No', Again

This is a really excellent piece, and hits so close to the bone, it's almost too good.

From Bill McGurn, at WSJ, "The Christian Baker Who Said ‘No’":  

Jack Phillips is America’s most famous baker. People have taken him all the way to the Supreme Court in hopes of getting it to force him to bake them one of his custom cakes. This week he’s back in the dock, again defending his refusal to bake a custom cake with a message he says goes against his Christian faith.

Mr. Phillips owns Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., and holds traditional views on marriage and sexuality. The first legal action against him came via the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, when in 2012 he declined to bake a custom cake for a same-sex wedding and found himself accused of unlawful discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. This time he’s being sued because he wouldn’t bake a cake celebrating a gender transition.

“Jack is being targeted for his religious beliefs,” says Kristen Waggoner, general counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, who defended Mr. Phillips in his first case and continues to represent him. “His opponents are weaponizing the law to punish and destroy him because he won’t create expression that violates his Christian faith. They want to make the law an arm of cancel culture.”

In the first go-round, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018), the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 for Mr. Phillips. But it did so narrowly, on grounds that the commission had displayed “clear and impermissible hostility” to Mr. Phillips’s religious beliefs. (One commissioner compared Mr. Phillips’s invocation of his Christian beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust.) The court left unresolved the key constitutional question: Can the government compel people to create speech or artistic expressions to which they profoundly object?

The latest trial started Monday in Colorado state court. It dates to 2017, when Autumn Scardina called Mr. Phillips’s shop. She requested a custom cake—pink on the inside, blue on the outside—reflecting her gender transition. When the shop refused, she complained to the commission.

The commission pursued the case but dropped it in 2019 after Mr. Phillips filed a federal lawsuit against the state. Ms. Scardina then filed her own suit. Given that Mr. Phillips has already lost 40% of his business because he has stopped making his signature custom wedding cakes, these suits are plainly aimed at harassing him into submission.

A 2017 New York Times profile opened with this lead: “Jack Phillips bakes beautiful cakes, and it is not a stretch to call him an artist.” As an artist, he argues that his custom cakes are speech, and that he shouldn’t be compelled to create cakes with messages he deeply objects to.

In her court filing, Ms. Scardina says she asked for a birthday cake, not a cake celebrating her transition, and accuses Mr. Phillips of refusing her because she is transgender. But her story has shifted. In her original complaint to the commission, she wrote that she’d told the bakery the design was “intended for the celebration of my transition from male to female.”

After Masterpiece turned down this cake, Ms. Scardina called to request another. This one would feature Satan smoking a joint. Mr. Phillips declined, again because of the message...

Still more at that top link, and I do hope and pray Mr. Phillips prevails again in court, even if, once again, it goes to the Supremes.