Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Description:  Two men filed a complaint with the state of Colorado after they asked cake artist Jack Phillips to design a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted, but that he could not design a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith.


ADF answers Colorado at US Supreme Court: ‘Artists shouldn’t be forced to express what govt dictates’

ADF attorneys file reply brief on behalf of cake artist Jack Phillips in Masterpiece Cakeshop case
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

 
WASHINGTON – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing cake artist Jack Phillips filed their final brief Wednesday prior to oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Phillips serves all people but cannot express all messages through his custom art. The brief argues that the commission is stripping expressive freedom from all people who create and sell art for a living.

As the brief explains, “[e]xpressive freedom is central to human dignity. It requires that artists be free to make their own moral judgments about what to express through their works. And it forbids governments from commandeering the painter’s brush, the sculptor’s hand, or the soloist’s voice to convey what is not in their minds or hearts.” The brief points out that this essential freedom crosses ideological lines. In fact, many groups, professors, and individuals that support same-sex marriage have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of Phillips.

“As our brief explains, artists shouldn’t be forced to express what the government dictates,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner, who will argue before the high court on behalf of Phillips and his shop on Dec. 5. “The commission ordered Jack to celebrate what his faith prohibits or to stop doing the work he loves. The Supreme Court has never compelled artistic expression, and doing so here would lead to less civility, diversity, and freedom for everyone no matter their views on marriage.”

“The Commission has devastated Phillips’s small family business because his conscience does not allow him to create art that expresses support for same-sex marriage,” the brief explains. “To justify this punishment of a man who serves all people but declines some messages, [the government] seek[s] to strip all for-profit speech creators of core constitutional protections. That would undermine First Amendment freedoms across the board, compelling speech on topics far beyond marriage, and leaving our society less civil and less free for generations to come. The Court should reject [the government’s] invitation, reverse the Court of Appeals’ decision, and affirm expressive freedom as a fixed star in our constitutional constellation.”

“Phillips is willing to serve any and all customers. He objects only to expressing certain messages through his custom art,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell. “Jack should have that basic freedom. But if the government has its way, it would compel not just cake artists to celebrate what their faith prohibits, but other professionals who create art for a living, such as graphic designers, filmmakers, photographers, and painters.”

The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court after the Colorado Supreme Court declined to review a Colorado Court of Appeals ruling in the case. That ruling affirmed a Colorado Civil Rights Commission decision from May 2014 that ordered Phillips to design custom wedding cakes that celebrate same-sex marriages if the shop designs other wedding cakes.

The commission’s order also required Phillips to re-educate his staff, most of whom are his family members—essentially teaching them that he was wrong to operate his business according to his faith. He must also report to the government for two years, describing all cakes that he declines to create and the reasons why. Because the order has forced Phillips to stop designing wedding cakes, he has lost approximately 40 percent of his income and is struggling to keep his small business afloat. (#JusticeForJack)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
 
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Additional resources: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Previous news releases:

  • 2017-11-09: Debate: ‘Masterpiece Cakeshop at US Supreme Court’ at Newseum on Nov. 13
  • 2017-11-01: Debate: ‘Masterpiece Cakeshop at US Supreme Court’ at Newseum on Nov. 13
  • 2017-10-20: African-American leaders supporting cake artist at US Supreme Court set record straight on civil rights
  • 2017-10-18: Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips receives ‘Courage in the Face of Power’ Award
  • 2017-09-08: US, 20 states, 479 creative professionals join others to support artistic, religious freedom at Supreme Court
  • 2017-09-06: Cake, floral artists to join members of Congress at news conference Thursday
  • 2017-08-31: Cake artist to Supreme Court: Affirm artistic freedom, free speech
  • 2017-06-26: US Supreme Court agrees to weigh in on Colorado cake artist’s freedom
  • 2016-07-22: Colorado cake artist asks US Supreme Court to protect his freedom of expression
  • 2016-04-25: Colo. cake artist weighing all options after state high court declines to take case
  • 2015-10-23: Cake artist asks Colo. Supreme Court to affirm his freedom of expression
  • 2015-08-13: Colo. court lets government punishment of cake artist stand, rejects his First Amendment freedoms
  • 2015-04-06: Colo. Civil Rights Commission issues inconsistent cake artist decisions
  • 2015-04-01: Colo. cake artist exemplifies need for state laws protecting religious freedom
  • 2015-01-23: ADF: Don’t force cake artist who supports same-sex marriage to speak against her beliefs
  • 2015-01-12: Revealed: Colo. commissioner compared cake artist to Nazi
  • 2014-07-17: Colo. cake artist appeals govt ‘re-education’ order
  • 2014-05-30: Colo. cake artist considering appeal of Civil Rights Commission decision
  • 2014-05-30: Artistic expression at stake in Colo. cake artist case
  • 2014-01-06: Cake artists are citizens, not government servants
  • 2013-12-06: Colo. court denies baker’s freedom in same-sex ceremony suit
  • 2013-12-03: ADF: Colo. cake artist shouldn’t be forced to support same-sex ceremonies

Commentary:

  • James Gottry: Artists shouldn't need to choose between their conscience and their craft (The Hill, 2017-11-10)
  • James Gottry: It’s entirely possible to support both artistic freedom and same-sex marriage (The Hill, 2017-10-25)
  • James Gottry: Bakers should be allowed to have their cake—and their freedom (The Hill, 2017-10-13)
  • Michael Farris: Masterpiece Cakeshop’s case is about artistic freedom, not discrimination (Washington Post, 2017-09-25)
  • James Gottry: Christian artists should have the same free speech game as Colin Kaepernick (The Federalist, 2017-08-30)
  • Jonathan Scruggs: Masterpiece Cakeshop: Can the state force us to agree with its views? (National Review, 2017-08-28)
  • Andreas Thonhauser: A luta de um confeiteiro pela liberdade interessa a todos (Gazeta do Povo, 2017-08-22)
  • Jonathan Scruggs: Google memos and pro-Trump cakes: When free speech values collide (The Hill, 2017-08-09)
  • Samuel Green: Freedom for Christian cake artist is freedom for all, even same-sex marriage backers (The Hill, 2017-07-18)
  • Jim Campbell: The Supreme Court puts a baker’s business—and artistic freedom—on the line (Washington Post, 2017-06-28)
  • James Gottry: U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether government can be the Cake Boss (Denver Post, 2017-06-26)
  • Jim Campbell: Arguments separating fashion designers from other artists aren’t worthy of the runway (National Review, 2017-01-23)
  • Samuel Green: Religious freedom under attack in Colorado (Washington Examiner, 2016-10-12)
  • Jack Phillips: Why I’m asking the U.S. Supreme Court to protect artistic freedom (Denver Post, 2016-07-22)
  • Jeremy Tedesco: Everyone should be able to have their First Amendment cake & eat it too (Religion News Service, 2015-01-29)

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