This year’s biggest Supreme Court decision pertaining to Colorado directly, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, was a lopsided 7-2 decision but a ruling very narrow in its scope. In the majority opinion, the fundamental question in the case, whether bakery owner Jack Phillips has the right to discriminate against same-sex couples in his bakery, was not conclusively addressed. The decision hinged on whether Phillips had been treated fairly by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, not the underlying question of Phillips’ discrimination against customers.
As the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reports, this unanswered crucial question isn’t going away–and now that Jack Phillips has fashioned himself into a lightning rod, it’s no surprise he’s getting struck repeatedly:
Following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that sided with a Christian baker over a never-baked wedding cake for a gay couple in Colorado, lawyers for that baker are now suing Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and members of the state’s Civil Rights Commission.
The Supreme Court’s decision rested largely on process, avoiding the deeper Constitutional issues around free speech, freedom of religion and civil rights, but lawyers for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which supported Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips of Lakewood, say in their complaint that a lawsuit is necessary to “stop Colorado’s continuing persecution of Phillips.”
The problem here is that neither Gov. John Hickenlooper nor the Civil Rights Commission are ‘continuing to persecute’ Phillips. Once it became clear that the decision in the case was not going to address the question of whether Phillips’ refusal to bake a same-sex wedding cake was unlawful discrimination, anyone could have predicted that there would have been another test case–and of course it was going to be Phillips getting the call. From the lawsuit as cited by Hutchins in his story:
…[S]ome Colorado citizens, emboldened by the state’s prosecution of Phillips, have targeted him. On the same day that the Supreme Court announced it would hear Phillips’s case, a Colorado lawyer called his shop and requested a cake designed with a blue exterior and pink interior, which the caller said would visually depict and celebrate a gender transition. Throughout the next year, Phillips received other requests for cakes celebrating Satan, featuring Satanic symbols, depicting sexually explicit materials, and promoting marijuana use. Phillips believes that some of those requests came from the same Colorado lawyer. …
Any resident, after all, can visit Masterpiece Cakeshop, and any resident can file a complaint with the Civil Rights Commission. Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws were not struck down, and if a complaint is filed it must be investigated. To the extent that Phillips is a “target,” it’s because he made himself a target. None of that is the fault of the state or the laws on the books. No one is persecuting Phillips, but it is necessary post-Masterpiece to demonstrate that Colorado’s discrimination laws are still in force.
If Mr. Phillips doesn’t like that, there are other states with more accommodating laws for, you know, bigots.