Masterpiece Cakeshop Back In Court On Additional Civil Rights Violations

Phillips refused to provide a blue and pink cake for local lawyer Autumn Scardina, celebrating her transition.

Colorado baker Jack Phillips was back in court this week, arguing that Colorado is violating his due process rights by continuing to investigate him for failing to make cakes for LGBTQ individuals. Phillips’ initial case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, made waves throughout the country when the Supreme Court narrowly ruled in his favor after he refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. In that case, the court found that the Civil Rights Commission had discriminated against the baker’s religion in investigating his case, including by saying disparaging things about Phillips’ beliefs during the commissions’ investigation into his potential violation of LGBTQ civil rights. The Supreme Court did not give the green light to anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the provision of services, but rather indicated that civil rights commissions cannot discriminate against religion in making civil rights violation determinations.

Now, however, Phillips is back in court arguing that the state must stop investigating him for additional potential civil rights violations. The new case stems from a 2017 incident when Phillips refused to provide a blue and pink cake for local lawyer Autumn Scardina, celebrating her transition. When the Colorado Civil Rights Commission began to investigate that incident, Phillips’ lawyers filed this lawsuit, arguing that the baker’s First Amendment right to practice his religion and his 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the laws were being violated.

In court this week, the state asked that the judge dismiss the case against the Civil Rights Commission, but the judge indicated that he was inclined to let it go forward. The State argued that the Civil Rights Commission is simply enforcing existing state anti-discrimination laws by continuing to investigate Phillips for his refusal to make a cake for Autumn Scardina based on her gender identity. Phillips’ lawyers argued that the case constituted harassment of Philips by the state of Colorado. For now, the court hasn’t made any major rulings, and the case will continue, possibly even being appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court again. In the meantime, the Civil Rights Commission is continuing their administrative case against Phillips for his underlying refusal to serve LGBTQ clients.

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