CASEMasterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

Client Story
Jack Phillips

Jack Phillips, a Colorado native and cake artist, opened Masterpiece Cakeshop in 1993 and has joyfully served the community of Lakewood, Colorado for more than 20 years. In his years of business, Jack has been a part of major milestone events for many in the community. He’s watched families grow from young couples requesting wedding cakes to parents requesting graduation cakes for their children.

 

Masterpiece Cakeshop is also a family business. Among his other employees, one of Jack’s sisters decorates cakes, another sister volunteers to keep the shop clean, and his elderly mother takes care of accounting needs a few hours each week.

As a Christian, Jack knows that God can work as He chooses, including using small bakeries like Masterpiece Cakeshop to do His work. “[God] has chosen this bakery to do a lot of different things that we had never planned and that we would never want to stop,” he said.  Jack’s faith motivates how he operates his business, but he would one day find out that the State of Colorado could force him to strip every ounce of his faith out of his business.

In July 2012, two men came into Jack’s cakeshop requesting a wedding cake for their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting only a few seconds, Jack declined the request, saying he could not design cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies. Jack offered to make the couple any other type of baked good or sell them a pre-made cake, but, because of his faith, he could not design a cake promoting a same-sex wedding ceremony.

Infuriated, the two men stormed out of the store. Shortly after, Jack started to receive phone calls from people threatening and harassing him because of his decision to not use his artistic talents to design a cake celebrating the couple’s same-sex marriage. Instead of responding in anger, Jack saw the calls as an invitation to prayer:  “[The phone calls] give me an opportunity to pray for people I wouldn’t know.”

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys and ADF allied attorneys came to Jack’s defense when the couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for sexual orientation discrimination. Even after explaining to the commission that it wasn’t the people Jack objected to, it was the message the cake would send about marriage, an administrative law judge ruled against Jack in December 2013, saying that designing and creating cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies are not speech protected by the First Amendment. The commission ordered Jack and his staff to either violate Jack's faith by designing custom wedding cakes that celebrate same-sex marriages or stop designing all wedding cakes, which was approximately 40% of Jack's business. In addition, Jack and his staff were ordered to go through a “re-education” program and file quarterly “compliance” reports telling the government every time that Jack declines a custom cake request and explaining the reasons why.

In July 2016, ADF attorneys and allied attorneys petitioned the United States Supreme Court to take up Jack’s case. Thankfully, on June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court granted review of the case. Oral arguments will take place on December 5, 2017.

Through all of this, Jack continues to trust in God’s plan for his life and for the future of Masterpiece Cakeshop. “I can trust Him and know that God is doing what he’s going to do. And if He’s chosen us to be a part of that, that’s quite an honor.” 

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Summary
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.
News Releases

Debate: ‘Masterpiece Cakeshop at US Supreme Court’ at Newseum on Nov. 13

Religious Freedom

Debate: ‘Masterpiece Cakeshop at US Supreme Court’ at Newseum on Nov. 13

Join Supreme Court litigators David Cortman of ADF and Ria Tabacco Mar of the ACLU for a debate on the merits and implications of the case.

Nov 01, 2017 Read More

African-American leaders supporting cake artist at US Supreme Court set record straight on civil rights

Religious Freedom

African-American leaders supporting cake artist at US Supreme Court set record straight on civil rights

Numerous African-American leaders in support of Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips in his case at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Oct 20, 2017 Read More

Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips receives ‘Courage in the Face of Power’ Award

Religious Freedom

Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips receives ‘Courage in the Face of Power’ Award

ADF client in Supreme Court case honored at Weyrich 2017 Awards Dinner

Oct 18, 2017 Read More

US, 20 states, 479 creative professionals join others to support artistic, religious freedom at Supreme Court

Religious Freedom

US, 20 states, 479 creative professionals join others to support artistic, religious freedom at Supreme Court

86 members of Congress also among at least 45 briefs asking justices to rule in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop

Sep 08, 2017 Read More

Cake, floral artists to join members of Congress at news conference Thursday

Religious Freedom

Cake, floral artists to join members of Congress at news conference Thursday

News conference to announce friend-of-the-court brief being filed with U.S. Supreme Court by members of Congress in support of Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop.

Sep 06, 2017 Read More

Cake artist to Supreme Court: Affirm artistic freedom, free speech

Religious Freedom

Cake artist to Supreme Court: Affirm artistic freedom, free speech

ADF attorneys representing Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips and his family business, Masterpiece Cakeshop, filed their opening brief Thursday with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Aug 31, 2017 Read More

US Supreme Court agrees to weigh in on Colorado cake artist’s freedom

Religious Freedom

US Supreme Court agrees to weigh in on Colorado cake artist’s freedom

ADF represents Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop

Jun 26, 2017 Read More

Colorado cake artist asks US Supreme Court to protect his freedom of expression

Religious Freedom

Colorado cake artist asks US Supreme Court to protect his freedom of expression

ADF represents Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop

Jul 22, 2016 Read More

Colo. cake artist weighing all options after state high court declines to take case

Religious Freedom

Colo. cake artist weighing all options after state high court declines to take case

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco.

Apr 25, 2016 Read More

Cake artist asks Colo. Supreme Court to affirm his freedom of expression

Religious Freedom

Cake artist asks Colo. Supreme Court to affirm his freedom of expression

ADF represents Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop

Oct 23, 2015 Read More

Colo. court lets government punishment of cake artist stand, rejects his First Amendment freedoms

Religious Freedom

Colo. court lets government punishment of cake artist stand, rejects his First Amendment freedoms

ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco: “Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live and work consistent with their faith. Government has a duty to protect people’s freedom to follow their beliefs personally and professionally rather than force them to adopt the government’s views. Jack simply exercised the long-cherished American freedom to decline to use his artistic talents to promote a message with which he disagrees. The court is wrong to deny Jack his fundamental freedoms. We will discuss further legal options.”

Aug 14, 2015 Read More

Colo. cake artist’s freedom of belief, livelihood at stake

Religious Freedom

Colo. cake artist’s freedom of belief, livelihood at stake

ADF asks Colo. court to reverse ruling against Jack Phillips

Jul 06, 2015 Read More

Colo. Civil Rights Commission issues inconsistent cake artist decisions

Colo. cake artist exemplifies need for state laws protecting religious freedom

Religious Freedom

Colo. cake artist exemplifies need for state laws protecting religious freedom

ADF, allied attorneys file brief with Colorado Court of Appeals

Apr 01, 2015 Read More

ADF: Don’t force cake artist who supports same-sex marriage to speak against her beliefs

Religious Freedom

ADF: Don’t force cake artist who supports same-sex marriage to speak against her beliefs

Customer filed complaint with Colorado Civil Rights Commission after bakery declined to write objectionable words, symbols on cake

Jan 23, 2015 Read More

Revealed: Colo. commissioner compared cake artist to Nazi

Religious Freedom

Revealed: Colo. commissioner compared cake artist to Nazi

New brief reveals that civil rights commissioner lumped in Christian cake artist with slave owners, Holocaust perpetrators

Jan 12, 2015 Read More

Colo. cake artist appeals govt ‘re-education’ order

Religious Freedom

Colo. cake artist appeals govt ‘re-education’ order

Masterpiece Cakeshop ordered to file quarterly ‘compliance’ reports, re-educate staff that artists must endorse all views

Jul 17, 2014 Read More

Colo. cake artist considering appeal of Civil Rights Commission decision

Artistic expression at stake in Colo. cake artist case

Religious Freedom

Artistic expression at stake in Colo. cake artist case

ADF attorneys, allied attorneys available to media following Colorado Civil Rights Commission hearing

May 30, 2014 Read More

Cake artists are citizens, not government servants

Religious Freedom

Cake artists are citizens, not government servants

Attorneys for Masterpiece Cakeshop appeal unjust administrative court ruling

Jan 06, 2014 Read More

Colo. court denies baker’s freedom in same-sex ceremony suit

Religious Freedom

Colo. court denies baker’s freedom in same-sex ceremony suit

ADF official comment

Dec 06, 2013 Read More

ADF: Colo. cake artist shouldn’t be forced to support same-sex ceremonies

Religious Freedom

ADF: Colo. cake artist shouldn’t be forced to support same-sex ceremonies

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, allied attorneys available to media after court hearing Wednesday

Dec 03, 2013 Read More
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https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---11-cake-artists-(in-support-of-neither-party).pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---20-states.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---22-utah-republican-state-senators.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---33-family-policy-organizations.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---34-legal-scholars.pdf?sfvrsn=8https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---479-creative-professionals.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---86-united-states-senators-and-representatives.pdf?sfvrsn=4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---aaron-and-melissa-klein.pdf?sfvrsn=4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---agudath-israel.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---american-college-of-pediatricians-et-al.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---billy-graham-evangelistic-association-et-al.pdf?sfvrsn=4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---c12-group-et-al.pdf?sfvrsn=4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---catholicvote-org.pdf?sfvrsn=4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---center-for-constitutional-jurisprudence-and-national-organization-for-marriage.pdf?sfvrsn=4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---christian-business-owners-supporting-religious-freedom.pdf?sfvrsn=4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---christian-law-association.pdf?sfvrsn=4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---christian-legal-society-et-al.pdf?sfvrsn=4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---concerned-women-for-america.pdf?sfvrsn=4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---council-for-christian-colleges-(in-support-of-neither-party).pdf?sfvrsn=4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---ethics-amp-religious-liberty-commission-of-the-southern-baptist-convention-et-al.pdf?sfvrsn=4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---first-amendment-lawyers-association.pdf?sfvrsn=4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---amicus-brief---freedom-x-and-rabbi-dov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ivil-rights-division.pdf?sfvrsn=12
Court Title Date
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - 11 cake artists (in support of neither party) Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - 20 states Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - 22 Utah Republican state senators Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - 33 family policy organizations Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - 34 legal scholars Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - 479 creative professionals Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - 86 United States senators and representatives Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Aaron and Melissa Klein Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Agudath Israel Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - American College of Pediatricians, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Christian Medical and Dental Association, and the Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Billy Graham Evangelistic Association et al. Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - C12 Group; Christian Employers Alliance; Pinnacle Forum; CEO Forum, Inc.; and Center for Faith and Work at Letourneau University Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - CatholicVote.org Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence and National Organization for Marriage Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Christian Business Owners Supporting Religious Freedom Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Christian Law Association Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Christian Legal Society et al. Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Concerned Women for America Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Council for Christian Colleges (in support of neither party) Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention et al. Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - First Amendment Lawyers Association Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Freedom X and Rabbi Dovid Bressman Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Institute for Justice (in support of neither party) Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - International Christian Photographers and Center for Arizona Policy Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Legal Scholar Adam J. MacLeod Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Liberty Counsel Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Mark Regnerus, Jason S. Carroll, Joseph Price, and Donald Paul Sullins Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - North Carolina Values Coalition and the Family Research Council Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Professors Christopher R. Green and David R. Upham Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Public Advocate of the United States et al. Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Restoring Religious Freedom Project Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Richard Lawrence Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Sherif Girgis Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - The National Black Religious Broadcasters and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - The National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs (“COLPA”) filed on behalf of orthodox Jewish organizations Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - The National Legal Foundation, Pacific Justice Foundation, and Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Thomas More Society Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - United States Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops et al. Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - William Jack and the National Center for Law and Policy Sep 07 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - 14 law and economics scholars Sep 06 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Independence Law Center Sep 06 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Rev. Patrick Mahoney and Free Speech Advocates Sep 06 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., and African-American and civil rights leaders Sep 06 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - The Cato Institute, Reason Foundation, and Individual Rights Foundation Sep 06 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - The Foundation for Moral Law Sep 06 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Southeastern Legal Foundation and international law scholars Sep 01 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief - Indiana Family Institute, Inc.; Indiana Family Action, Inc.; and the American Family Association of Indiana, Inc. Aug 31 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Opening brief filed with U.S. Supreme Court Aug 31 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Petition for writ of certiorari Jul 22 2016
State Supreme Court
Cert denial from Colorado Supreme Court Apr 25 2016
State Supreme Court
Petition for writ of certiorari filed with Colorado Supreme Court Oct 23 2015
Appellate Court
Appeals Decision Aug 13 2015
Appellate Court
Reply brief filed with Colorado Court of Appeals Mar 31 2015
Appellate Court
Opening brief filed with Colorado Court of Appeals Jan 09 2015
Appellate Court
Notice of appeal to Colorado Court of Appeals Jul 16 2014
Administrative Agency
Final agency order May 30 2014
Administrative Agency
ACLU brief opposing appeal of administrative judge's decision May 02 2014
Administrative Agency
Colorado AG brief opposing appeal of administrative judge's decision May 02 2014
Administrative Agency
Respondents' brief in support of appeal of administrative judge's decision Apr 18 2014
Administrative Agency
Notice of appeal of administrative judge's decision Jan 03 2014
Administrative Agency
Administrative law court decision Dec 06 2013
Administrative Agency
Summary judgment brief Oct 31 2013
Administrative Agency
Complaint filed with the Colorado Civil Rights Division Sep 05 2012

Commentary

Resources

2017-12-05: U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments (Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission)

Watch: Justice for Jack

 


Campaign: Create Freely

Biographies

Media Documents