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Alliance Alert

Sep 1, 2017

Opening Brief in Masterpiece Cakeshop

Yesterday, ADF attorneys filed the opening brief for Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Let's take a look.

The brief, which you can read here, argues that the government cannot coerce Jack Phillips to create custom artistic expression that violates his conscience. It begins:

Jack Phillips's love for art and design began at an early age. Discovering that he could blend his skills as a pastry chef, sculptor, and painter, [Jack] spent nearly two decades in bakeries owned by others before opening Masterpiece Cakeshop twenty-four years ago. Long before television shows like Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes, Phillips carefully chose Masterpiece’s name: it would not be just a bakery, but an art gallery of cakes. With this in mind, Phillips created a Masterpiece logo depicting an artist’s paint palate with a paintbrush and whisk. And for over a decade, a large picture has hung in the shop depicting Phillips painting at an easel. Since long before this case arose, Phillips has been an artist using cake as his canvas with Masterpiece as his studio.

ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner had this to say at the time of filing:

Tolerance should be a two-way street. Phillips gladly serves anyone who walks into his store, but, as is customary practice for many artists, he declines opportunities to design for a variety of events and messages that conflict with his deeply held beliefs. In this case, Jack told the couple suing him he’d sell them anything in the store but just couldn’t design a custom cake celebrating their wedding because of his Christian faith. The First Amendment protects Jack’s right to create artistic expression that is consistent with his core convictions. Individuals can support both same-sex marriage and Jack, and people should have the right to disagree on critical matters of conscience. The same government that can force Jack to violate his faith and conscience can force any one of us to do the same.

Over at the ADF blog, Sarah Kramer offers up four key arguments that ADF is making in the case. Here's a sample:

Jack should have the freedom to say “no” to some custom artistic projects while saying “yes” to all people.

Jack’s decision to decline the custom cake order had nothing to do with the same-sex couple that requested it. Jack will sell anything off his shelves to those who walk in the store. In fact, he offered to do just that for the couple suing him.

This case is really about whether Jack has the freedom to decline to use his artistic talents to celebrate a particular event that violates his faith. And this is not the only event he has declined to promote. He has turned down a cake for a divorce party. He has turned down cakes for bachelor parties and Halloween. He serves all people, but does not celebrate all events.

Read the rest of Sarah's post here.


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  • Case:Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission
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