On Tuesday, according to The Daily Caller, Christian baker Jack Phillips — who was recently handed a victory at the Supreme Court after the Colorado Civil Rights Commission discriminated against him on the basis of religion by fining him for not baking a same-sex wedding cake — filed a new lawsuit against the Civil Rights Commission. Why? Because the Civil Rights Commission has apparently issued a preliminary ruling penalizing him for not baking a gender transition celebration cake.
On the same day the high court agreed to review the Masterpiece case, an attorney named Autumn Scardina called Phillips’ shop and asked him to create a cake celebrating a sex transition. The caller asked that the cake include a blue exterior and a pink interior, a reflection of Scardina’s transgender identity. Phillips declined to create the cake, given his religious conviction that sex is immutable, while offering to sell the caller other pre-made baked goods. In the months that followed, the bakery received requests for cakes featuring marijuana use, sexually explicit messages, and Satanic symbols. One solicitation submitted by email asked the cake shop to create a three-tiered white cake depicting Satan licking a functional 9 inch dildo. Phillips believes Scardina made all these requests. … Three weeks after Phillips won at the high court, the commission issued a probable cause determination, finding there was sufficient evidence to support Scardina’s claim of discrimination.
Phillips has now sued, claiming violation of free exercise, free speech, due process, and equal protection. The lawsuit, by the Alliance Defending Freedom, asks for an injunction against the Civil Rights Commission and sues the head of the commission in her personal capacity.
The possibility of a renewed crackdown on religious business practice was not foreclosed, however, by the prior Supreme Court decision. That decision was narrowly-tailored to avoid the key issue: whether the government can force a business owner to violate his or her religious precepts via antidiscrimination law. The case instead turned on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s openly disparaging language about Christians and their differential treatment of religious bakers from non-religious bakers.
The root issue, however, was far deeper. Justice Kennedy wrote that such an issue would have to wait for another day:
The Commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion. Phillips was entitled to a neutral decisionmaker who would give full and fair consideration to his religious objection as he sought to assert it in all of the circumstances in which this case was presented, considered, and decided. …The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts. …
If the political Left should ever gain a fifth vote on the Supreme Court, it will not be long before states across the country — and perhaps a Democratic Congress — would crack down on individual religious businessowners in blatant violation of the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of association, speech, and religion. Jack Phillips isn’t out of danger yet.