Masterpiece Cakeshop Takes Another Bite

New lawsuit against Civil Rights Commission brings challenges for both sides

Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips renewed his legal battle with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when he filed an Aug. 14 complaint in federal district court. In Masterpiece Cakeshop et al v. Elenis et al, Phillips has alleged continued animosity by the commission toward his religious beliefs. According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the organization representing Phillips, the lawsuit comes from a June ruling against Phillips for “probable cause” of discrimination based on “sex and or transgender status.” Phillips had refused to create a cake for a customer to celebrate their gender transition.

“It is now clear that Colorado will not rest until Phillips either closes Masterpiece Cakeshop or agrees to violate his religious beliefs,” states the complaint. “The state’s continuing efforts to target Phillips do not just violate the Constitution; they cross the line into bad faith. This Court should put a stop to Colorado’s unconstitutional bullying.”

Among other claims for relief, the complaint asks for an injunction against enforcement of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act for Phillips’ and others refusal of products or services that go against their religious beliefs and for indicating particular messages they will not express through goods or services because of those beliefs. The complaint names as defendants all seven members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission as well as Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and Gov. John Hickenlooper.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the August 27, 2018 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.