Department Files Brief on Behalf Of Colorado Baker Who Refused To Bake
Wedding Cake For Gay Couple On Faith-Based Grounds
The Justice Department on Thursday
filed a brief supporting the Colorado baker who refused to bake a
wedding cake for a gay couple on faith-based grounds, in the latest
religious freedom case to be considered before the nation's highest
Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, had refused to sell a
customized cake for a gay couple's union, claiming a religious exemption
to the state's anti-discrimination law.
“When Phillips designs and creates a custom wedding cake for a specific
couple and a specific wedding, he plays an active role in enabling that
ritual, and he associates himself with the celebratory message
conveyed,” Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall wrote in the brief.
Wall added, “Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate
in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades
his First Amendment rights.”
The Supreme Court announced in June it will hear the Masterpiece
Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case. State courts had
ruled against the businessman.
The high court will now decide whether applying Colorado's public
accommodations law to compel the baker to create "expression" -- a
wedding cake -- violates his constitutionally protected Christian
beliefs about marriage.
“I never thought the government would try to take away my freedoms and
force me to create something that goes against my morals,” Phillips told
Fox News on Thursday.
The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday accused the Trump
administration, through the DOJ brief, of advocating for “nothing short
of a constitutional right to discriminate.”
“This Justice Department has already made its hostility to the rights of
LGBT people and so many others crystal clear,” Louise Melling, the
deputy legal director of the ACLU, said in a statement. “But this brief
was shocking, even for this administration.”
Backers of Phillips, like Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee, though, call it
a “freedom of expression case” that “extends far more broadly than a
religious liberty case.”
“What matters is how our laws can be brought to bear against those who
believe,” Lee said Thursday. “The government cannot force you to speak
where you would choose to remain silent. These are foundational pillars
Phillips has told the Supreme Court he has free speech and religious
rights under the First Amendment that should protect him. He said he
should not be compelled to bake a cake specifically to honor a same-sex
Colorado's anti-discrimination law, though, protects people on the basis
of their sexual orientation. Charlie Craig and David Mullins had filed a
complaint against Phillips and his suburban Denver shop after Phillips
said he would not create and decorate a cake in honor of their marriage.