A federal judge in Colorado has given Jack Phillips, owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop, the green light to sue the state for anti-religious bias.
On Friday, Judge Wiley Y. Daniel of the U.S. District Court of Colorado refused to dismiss the lawsuit and ruled that the suit against the state can proceed.
Phillips was previously cited by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for refusing to bake a cake celebrating a gender transition for transgender Denver attorney Autumn Scardina.
Scardina had asked Phillips to bake a cake that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside as a celebration of “gender transition.”
Additionally, Scardina’s request seemed suspect because the request came on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court decided it would take up Phillip’s appeal in another case where Phillips refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple.
The Christian baker filed his lawsuit after the state made the decision to prosecute him even after Phillips won that case at the highest court in the land in a June decision.
Jim Campbell, who is representing Phillips and is senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom said in a statement, “The same agency that the Supreme Court rebuked as hostile to Jack Phillips has remained committed to treating him unequally and forcing him to express messages that violate his religious beliefs.”
“Colorado is acting in bad faith and with bias toward Jack,” he added. “We look forward to moving forward with this lawsuit to ensure that Jack isn’t forced to create custom cakes that express messages in conflict with his faith.”
Campbell argued that the state showed bias because it allowed other cake artists to refuse to bake cakes but showed a special “hostility” towards Phillips.
He said the state “allow(s) other cake artists to decline requests to create custom cakes that express messages they deem objectionable and would not express for anyone.”
Campbell made it clear that Phillips is willing to make cakes for all people regardless of lifestyle — it’s just messages some cakes convey that he refuses to be party to.
The issue for Phillips was never the person asking for a cake, but rather what the cake represented, Campbell maintained.
“Jack serves all customers, and he is even happy to serve the attorney who lodged the complaint against him,” he said in the statement.
“But Jack doesn’t create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in conflict with his deeply held beliefs.”
Campbell argued that the civil rights commission has its sights specifically set on Phillips and said one commissioner referred to Phillips as a “hater” on Twitter.
“He can’t get a fair shake before the state commission,” Campbell said.