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CO cake artist to appeal decision that violates his right to create freely

ADF attorneys represent Jack Phillips, Masterpiece Cakeshop
A Dangerous Line Has Been Drawn in Jack Phillips’ Case

DENVER – Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips will appeal Thursday’s state appeals court decision that would force him to express messages that violate his beliefs. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop had asked the Colorado Court of Appeals to uphold his First Amendment rights after a trial court issued a ruling that punished Phillips for declining to design a custom cake celebrating a gender transition.

“Free speech is for everyone. No one should be forced to express a message that violates their core beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jake Warner, who argued before the court on behalf of Phillips in Scardina v. Masterpiece Cakeshop. “Over a decade ago, Colorado officials began targeting Jack, misusing state law to force him to say things he does not believe. Then an activist attorney continued that crusade. This cruelty must stop. One need not agree with Jack’s views to agree that all Americans should be free to say what they believe, even if the government disagrees with those beliefs. The same law being used to punish Jack is also at issue now at the U.S. Supreme Court in 303 Creative v. Elenis. The Court there should reject Colorado’s attempt to mandate orthodoxy and drive views it disfavors from the public square and affirm that graphic artist Lorie Smith and all artists—writers, painters, photographers, filmmakers, calligraphers, cake artists, and more—have the right to create freely without fear of government punishment. Cultural winds may shift, but freedom of speech is foundational to our self-government and to the free and fearless pursuit of truth.”

On the same day the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear Phillips’ prior case where Colorado tried to force him to create a custom cake celebrating a same-sex wedding—a case in which Phillips prevailed in 2018—an activist attorney called Masterpiece Cakeshop requesting that Phillips create a custom-designed cake, pink on the inside and blue on the outside, that would symbolize and celebrate a gender transition. The attorney then called back—requesting another custom cake depicting Satan smoking marijuana to “correct the errors of [Phillips’] thinking.” Phillips declined to create both custom cakes because they expressed messages that violate his core beliefs. The activist then filed this lawsuit. Phillips works with all people and always decides whether to take a project based on what message a cake will express, not who is requesting it.

ADF attorneys are litigating both Phillips’ case and Smith’s case, 303 Creative v. Elenis. Both cases involve the same state law, which Colorado officials are misusing to force artists to express messages that contradict their core beliefs and faith.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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Jake Warner
Jake Warner
Senior Counsel
Jake Warner serves as legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom’s Appellate Team.