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Colorado Supreme Court takes Jack Phillips' free speech case

ADF attorneys representing cake artist and his Masterpiece Cakeshop asked state high court to uphold Phillips’ First Amendment rights
Jack Phillips works on a custom cake in his shop

DENVER – The Colorado Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to take the case of cake artist Jack Phillips and his Masterpiece Cakeshop, the third such lawsuit to target them.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Phillips and his cake shop appealed a Colorado Court of Appeals decision that would force him to express messages that violate his beliefs. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in 303 Creative v. Elenis that upheld free speech for all, ADF attorneys filed a supplemental notice with the Colorado Supreme Court asking it to apply that ruling and similarly affirm Phillips’ free speech rights in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Scardina. An activist attorney and Colorado officials have misused the same state law that was at issue in 303 Creative to punish Phillips for more than a decade.

“Free speech is for everyone. As the U.S. Supreme Court held in 303 Creative, the government can’t force artists to express messages they don’t believe,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jake Warner. “Because the attorney asked Jack to create a custom cake that would celebrate and symbolize a transition from male to female, the requested cake is speech under the First Amendment. The Colorado Supreme Court should apply 303 Creative to reverse the appeals court’s decision punishing Jack. You don’t need to agree with Jack’s views to agree that Americans shouldn’t be compelled to express what they don’t believe.”

On the same day the Supreme Court announced it would hear Phillips’ first case—in which he prevailed in 2018 after Colorado tried to force him to create a custom cake celebrating a same-sex wedding—an activist attorney called Masterpiece Cakeshop, requesting that Phillips create a custom cake that would symbolize and celebrate a gender transition. The attorney then called again to request another custom cake, one depicting Satan smoking marijuana, to “correct the errors of [Phillips’] thinking.” Phillips politely declined both requests because the cakes expressed messages that violate his core beliefs. The attorney then filed the current lawsuit, threatening to continue harassing Phillips until he is punished.

“Jack works with all people and always decides whether to create a custom cake based on what message it will express, not who requests it,” Warner continued.

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.