Legal Brief to U.S. Supreme Court: Cake Baker’s Punishment for Marriage Views Is Unconstitutional
Texas Values today joined 32 state family policy organizations from across the country supporting a Colorado cake shop owner who is being forced by the government to make a cake with a specific theme: celebrating a same-sex wedding ceremony.
The Colorado government entity also required the owner, Jack Phillips, to re-educate his staff, most of whom are his family members—essentially telling them that he was wrong to operate his business according to his faith. He must also report to the government for two years, describing all cakes that he declines to create and the reasons why. As a result of this ruling, Phillips has lost an estimated 40 percent of his business.
In a friend-of-the-court brief filed for the U.S. Supreme Court case Craig v. Masterpiece Cakeshop, Texas Values argues that legal decisions against the defendant, Phillips, undermines a constitutional firewall against compelled speech and will drive from the marketplace creative professionals who dissent from state-mandated orthodoxy on matters of ‘politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.’”
Said Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values:
“The First Amendment protect religious liberty and freedom of speech and by no means gives government power to compel artists such as Jack Phillips to express someone else’s message, particularly on an issue such as marriage that has been widely debated in our country. We Texans are proud of our heritage of individual liberty, and we urge the High Court to stand up for our first freedoms by upholding Mr. Phillips’s right to express himself – or to choose not to express himself – according to the dictates of his own conscience, and not based on force by the government.”
The Colorado Supreme Court declined to take the case after the state’s Court of Appeals affirmed a Colorado Civil Rights Commission decision from May 2014. That decision ordered Phillips and his employees to design custom cakes that celebrate same-sex ceremonies if the shop designs cakes for opposite-sex ceremonies
In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Phillips to design a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted, but that he could not design a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony. Phillips regularly declines opportunities to create custom cakes for events that violate his convictions, including Halloween cakes, anti-American cakes, adult-themed cakes, cakes containing alcohol, and cakes that would disparage others.
Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, picketed Phillips and filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which eventually ruled against Phillips. The same-sex couple was easily able to obtain their desired rainbow-themed cake for free from another nearby cake artist.
In contrast to the ruling against Phillips, the commission found in 2015 that three other Denver cake artists were not guilty of creed discrimination when they declined a Christian customer’s request for a cake that reflected his religious opposition to same-sex marriage. The commission found those bakers had the right not to create custom cakes based on the requested message.
More about the background of the case here.
National Review Senior Fellow and former prospective Presidential candidate David French is legal author for the brief.
About Texas Values
Texas Values is a nonprofit organization dedicated to standing for faith, family, and freedom in Texas. More information is available at txvalues.org.