Imagine for a moment that you are a public servant who has taken an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution. Now imagine that the Supreme Court of the United States admonished you and your colleagues for actions they deemed unconstitutional in a 7-2 landmark decision.
Would you be humbled? Would you make a good-faith effort to change the policies and behavior that put you at the mercy of the nation’s highest court? Most of us would. But this does not seem to be the case for some acting on behalf of the state of Colorado.
In Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court called out state officials for acting with hostility towards Jack Phillips, a cake artist in the Denver area who declined to design a custom cake celebrating a same-sex wedding.
The Court found that the state of Colorado violated Jack’s free exercise of religion. In fact, the majority found the government’s actions so hostile and so biased that it did not need to consider any of Jack’s free-speech claims.
So what has Colorado done to remedy what the Court called its “impermissible religious hostility”? Absolutely nothing. In fact, less than one month after the Masterpiece decision, state officials targeted the very same individual who beat them before the Supreme Court.
It is beyond belief.
Jack has spent six years battling the state for simply declining to express a message that conflicts with his religious beliefs. Now, right after the Supreme Court has given him the justice he deserves, the state of Colorado has decided to pursue a second claim against Jack. This one is even more baseless than the first.
In June of 2017, the very day that the Supreme Court decided to hear Masterpiece, a local attorney asked Jack to design a custom pink-and-blue cake to celebrate his gender transition, a request that Jack politely declined. Of course, Jack serves everyone. He just cannot express all messages, especially those that conflict with his Christian beliefs. Jack has never created a cake expressing this message for anyone.
Still, Colorado has decided to use this case to target Jack a second time.
This comes even after the state was reprimanded by the Supreme Court in Masterpiece. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy emphasized that Colorado unequally applied its laws against Jack. The state decided in other cases that cake artists are free to decline requests for cakes criticizing same-sex marriage. Yet the state came down against Jack when he declined to design a cake celebrating a same-sex marriage.
The first time around, it looked like Colorado was biased against people of faith. Now, it just looks like the state is biased against people named “Jack Phillips.” In moving ahead on this new case, the government is yet again confirming that it applies its law in an arbitrary and unequal way, which the Supreme Court has already said it cannot do.
On top of that, the state is contradicting the arguments it made the first time around. A brief Colorado sent to the Supreme Court argued that Jack is “free to decline to sell cakes with ‘pro-gay’ designs.” But what is this recently requested cake but a custom cake with a “pro-transgender” design? If Colorado were following what it told the Supreme Court, it would have dismissed this case against Jack.
But Colorado shows that it is waging a crusade against Jack in harassing him again. Enough is enough. Alliance Defending Freedom is “going on offense” and suing the state of Colorado on Jack's behalf for its blatant targeting of him.
You would think that a clear Supreme Court decision against their first effort would give them pause. But it seems like some in the state government are hell-bent on punishing Jack for living according to his faith.
If that isn’t hostility, what is?