DENVER, March 6, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Christian baker in Colorado at the center of a recent Supreme Court religious liberty ruling has finally resolved a subsequent legal battle over a second attempt to force him to create an LGBT-themed cake, in a development his attorneys are hailing as a victory against religious discrimination.
Last summer, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that Colorado officials had discriminated against the Masterpiece Cakeshop owner’s religious beliefs while trying to force him to bake a cake for a same-sex “wedding,” but didn’t rule directly on a right to abstain from baking such cakes. On June 26, Autumn Scardina filed a complaint against Phillips for declining to bake a cake that would be pink on the inside and blue on the outside, to celebrate his “transition” from male to female.
Two days later, Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD) director Aubrey Elenis wrote a letter concluding there was probable cause to conclude Phillips had unlawfully denied Scardina “equal enjoyment of a place of public accommodation.” In response, the religious liberty nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a federal lawsuit against outgoing Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper and the state civil rights commission, accusing them of ignoring the ruling and continuing to discriminate against Phillips’ faith.
On Tuesday, the state Attorney General’s office announced that it and Phillips’ attorneys have “mutually agreed to end their ongoing state and federal court litigation,” including the CCRC action against Phillips.
“After careful consideration of the facts, both sides agreed it was not in anyone’s best interest to move forward with these cases,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. “The larger constitutional issues might well be decided down the road, but these cases will not be the vehicle for resolving them. Equal justice for all will continue to be a core value that we will uphold as we enforce our state’s and nation’s civil rights laws.”
“The state of Colorado is dismissing its case against Jack, stopping its 6 1/2 years of hostility toward him for his beliefs,” ADF senior vice president of U.S. legal division Kristen Waggoner said, calling “(t)olerance and respect for good-faith differences of opinion” essential and declaring that the “state’s demonstrated and ongoing hostility toward Jack because of his beliefs is undeniable.”
ADF cited numerous examples of the Commission’s bias against conservative Christians, most recently a June 2018 meeting in which commissioners Rita Lewis and Carol Fabrizio declared that they “support” and are “proud of” past comments in which Commissioner Diann Rice called the invocation of religious freedom “one of the most despicable piece of rhetoric that people can use,” because it supposedly “has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust.”
“We’re pleased that the state will be dismissing its case against Jack,” Waggoner continued, lamenting that while “it finally appears to be getting the message that its anti-religious hostility has no place in our country, the state’s decision to target Jack has cost him more than 6 1/2 years of his life, forcing him to spend that time tied up in legal proceedings.”
“When I set out to build my dream of opening my own cake shop, combining my love for art and baking in a family business, I never imagined this chapter would be part of the Masterpiece Cakeshop story,” Phillips himself said in a statement. “I have and will always serve everyone who comes into my shop; I simply can’t celebrate events or express messages that conflict with my religious beliefs.
“Today is a win for freedom,” the baker declared. “I’m very grateful and looking forward to serving my customers as I always have: with love and respect.”
Colorado’s statement clarified that it did not preclude Scardina, an attorney, from pursuing a claim of his own. The Associated Press reported that neither Scardina nor his brother and law partner Todd Scardina returned requests for comment on the case.