CASEMasterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

Client Story
Jack Phillips

Jack Phillips, a Colorado native and cake artist, opened Masterpiece Cakeshop in 1993 and has joyfully served the community of Lakewood, Colorado for the last 23 years. In his years of business, Jack has been a part of major milestone events for many in the community. He’s watched families grow from young couples requesting wedding cakes to parents requesting graduation cakes for their children.

 

Masterpiece Cakeshop is also a family business. Among his other employees, one of Jack’s sisters decorates cakes at the bakery, another sister volunteers to keep the shop clean, and his elderly mother takes care of accounting needs a few hours each week.

As a Christian, Jack knows that God can work as He chooses, including using small bakeries like Masterpiece Cakeshop to do His work. “[God] has chosen this bakery to do a lot of different things that we had never planned and that we would never want to stop,” he said.  Jack’s faith motivates how he operates his business, but he would one day find out that the State of Colorado could force him to strip every ounce of his faith out of his business.

In July 2012, two men came into Jack’s bakery requesting a wedding cake for their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting only a few seconds, Jack declined the request, saying he could not create cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies. Jack offered to make the couple any other type of baked good or sell them a pre-made cake, but, because of his faith, he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex wedding ceremony.

Infuriated, the two men stormed out of the store. Shortly after, Jack started to receive phone calls from people threatening and harassing him because of his decision to not use his artistic talents to make a cake celebrating the couple’s same-sex marriage. Instead of responding in anger, Jack saw the calls as an invitation to prayer:  “[The phone calls] give me an opportunity to pray for people I wouldn’t know.”

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys and ADF allied attorneys came to Jack’s defense when the couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for sexual orientation discrimination. Even after explaining to the commission that it wasn’t the people Jack objected to, it was the message the cake would send about marriage, an administrative law judge ruled against Jack in December 2013, saying that designing and creating cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies are not speech protected by the First Amendment. The commission also ordered Jack and his staff to create cakes for same-sex wedding celebrations, go through a “re-education” program, implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years to show that Jack has completely eliminated his religious beliefs form his business.

After appealing the commission’s order to the Colorado Court of Appeals, the court ultimately upheld the commission’s decision in August 2015. ADF attorneys and allied attorneys then petitioned the Colorado Supreme Court to take up Jack’s case and are waiting on its decision whether to hear the appeal.

Through all of this, Jack continues to trust in God’s plan for his life and for the future of Masterpiece Cakeshop. “I can trust Him and rely that God is doing what he’s going to do. And if He’s chosen us to be a part of that, that’s quite an honor.” 

 


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Summary
Two men filed a complaint with the state of Colorado after a cake artist declined to use his artistic abilities to promote and endorse their same-sex ceremony even though other cake artists were willing to do the job.
News Releases

Colorado cake artist asks US Supreme Court to protect his freedom of expression

Religious Freedom

Colorado cake artist asks US Supreme Court to protect his freedom of expression

ADF represents Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop

Jul 22, 2016 Read More

Colo. cake artist weighing all options after state high court declines to take case

Religious Freedom

Colo. cake artist weighing all options after state high court declines to take case

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco.

Apr 25, 2016 Read More

Cake artist asks Colo. Supreme Court to affirm his freedom of expression

Religious Freedom

Cake artist asks Colo. Supreme Court to affirm his freedom of expression

ADF represents Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop

Oct 23, 2015 Read More

Colo. court lets government punishment of cake artist stand, rejects his First Amendment freedoms

Press Release

Colo. court lets government punishment of cake artist stand, rejects his First Amendment freedoms

ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco: “Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live and work consistent with their faith. Government has a duty to protect people’s freedom to follow their beliefs personally and professionally rather than force them to adopt the government’s views. Jack simply exercised the long-cherished American freedom to decline to use his artistic talents to promote a message with which he disagrees. The court is wrong to deny Jack his fundamental freedoms. We will discuss further legal options.”

Aug 14, 2015 Read More

Colo. cake artist’s freedom of belief, livelihood at stake

Press Release

Colo. cake artist’s freedom of belief, livelihood at stake

ADF asks Colo. court to reverse ruling against Jack Phillips

Jul 06, 2015 Read More

Colo. Civil Rights Commission issues inconsistent cake artist decisions

Marriage & Family

Colo. Civil Rights Commission issues inconsistent cake artist decisions

ADF official comment

Apr 06, 2015 Read More

Colo. cake artist exemplifies need for state laws protecting religious freedom

Marriage & Family

Colo. cake artist exemplifies need for state laws protecting religious freedom

ADF, allied attorneys file brief with Colorado Court of Appeals

Apr 01, 2015 Read More

ADF: Don’t force cake artist who supports same-sex marriage to speak against her beliefs

Marriage & Family

ADF: Don’t force cake artist who supports same-sex marriage to speak against her beliefs

Customer filed complaint with Colorado Civil Rights Commission after bakery declined to write objectionable words, symbols on cake

Jan 23, 2015 Read More

Revealed: Colo. commissioner compared cake artist to Nazi

Marriage & Family

Revealed: Colo. commissioner compared cake artist to Nazi

New brief reveals that civil rights commissioner lumped in Christian cake artist with slave owners, Holocaust perpetrators

Jan 12, 2015 Read More

Colo. cake artist appeals govt ‘re-education’ order

Marriage & Family

Colo. cake artist appeals govt ‘re-education’ order

Masterpiece Cakeshop ordered to file quarterly ‘compliance’ reports, re-educate staff that artists must endorse all views

Jul 17, 2014 Read More

Colo. cake artist considering appeal of Civil Rights Commission decision

Artistic expression at stake in Colo. cake artist case

Marriage & Family

Artistic expression at stake in Colo. cake artist case

ADF attorneys, allied attorneys available to media following Colorado Civil Rights Commission hearing

May 30, 2014 Read More

Cake artists are citizens, not government servants

Marriage & Family

Cake artists are citizens, not government servants

Attorneys for Masterpiece Cakeshop appeal unjust administrative court ruling

Jan 06, 2014 Read More

Colo. court denies baker’s freedom in same-sex ceremony suit

Marriage & Family

Colo. court denies baker’s freedom in same-sex ceremony suit

ADF official comment

Dec 06, 2013 Read More

ADF: Colo. cake artist shouldn’t be forced to support same-sex ceremonies

Marriage & Family

ADF: Colo. cake artist shouldn’t be forced to support same-sex ceremonies

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, allied attorneys available to media after court hearing Wednesday

Dec 03, 2013 Read More
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Documents
https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---petition-for-writ-of-certiorari.pdf?sfvrsn=4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---cert-denial-from-colorado-supreme-court.pdf?sfvrsn=4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/craig-v.-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---petition-for-writ-of-certiorari-filed-with-colorado-supreme-court.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/documents/craig-v-masterpiece-cakeshop-inc---appeals-decision.pdf?sfvrsn=4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/documents/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---reply-brief-filed-with-colorado-court-of-appeals.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/documents/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---opening-brief-filed-with-colorado-court-of-appeals.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/documents/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---notice-of-appeal-to-colorado-court-of-appeals.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/documents/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---final-agency-order.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/documents/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---aclu-brief-opposing-appeal-of-administrative-judge-39-s-decision.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/documents/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---colorado-ag-brief-opposing-appeal-of-administrative-judge-39-s-decision.pdf?sfvrsn=12https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/documents/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---respondents-brief-in-support-of-appeal-of-administrative-judge-39-s-decision.pdf?sfvrsn=14https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/documents/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---notice-of-appeal-of-administrative-judge-s-decision.pdf?sfvrsn=14https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/documents/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---administrative-law-court-decision.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/documents/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---summary-judgment-brief.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/documents/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-craig---complaint-filed-with-the-colorado-civil-rights-division.pdf?sfvrsn=10
Court Title Date
U.S. Supreme Court
Petition for writ of certiorari Jul 22 2016
State Supreme Court
Cert denial from Colorado Supreme Court Apr 25 2016
State Supreme Court
Petition for writ of certiorari filed with Colorado Supreme Court Oct 23 2015
Appellate Court
Appeals Decision Aug 13 2015
Appellate Court
Reply brief filed with Colorado Court of Appeals Mar 31 2015
Appellate Court
Opening brief filed with Colorado Court of Appeals Jan 09 2015
Appellate Court
Notice of appeal to Colorado Court of Appeals Jul 16 2014
Administrative Agency
Final agency order May 30 2014
Administrative Agency
ACLU brief opposing appeal of administrative judge's decision May 02 2014
Administrative Agency
Colorado AG brief opposing appeal of administrative judge's decision May 02 2014
Administrative Agency
Respondents' brief in support of appeal of administrative judge's decision Apr 18 2014
Administrative Agency
Notice of appeal of administrative judge's decision Jan 03 2014
Administrative Agency
Administrative law court decision Dec 06 2013
Administrative Agency
Summary judgment brief Oct 31 2013
Administrative Agency
Complaint filed with the Colorado Civil Rights Division Sep 05 2012

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