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Masterpiece cake artist asks CO Supreme Court to uphold his right to create freely

ADF attorneys represent Jack Phillips, cake shop in appeal to state’s high court
Jack Phillips in Masterpiece Cakeshop

DENVER – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop filed a petition Thursday with the Colorado Supreme Court that asks it to uphold Phillips’ First Amendment rights. ADF attorneys are appealing a decision by a state appeals court that would force Phillips to express messages that violate his beliefs.

“Free speech is for everyone. No one should be forced to express a message that violates their core beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jake Warner. “Over a decade ago, Colorado officials began targeting Jack, misusing state law to force him to create art celebrating messages he does not believe. Then an activist attorney continued that crusade. This cruelty must stop. One need not agree with Jack’s views to agree that no American should be compelled to express what they don’t believe.”

“The same law being used to punish Jack is also at issue now at the U.S. Supreme Court in 303 Creative v. Elenis. The court there should reject Colorado’s attempt to drive views it disfavors from the public square and affirm that graphic artist Lorie Smith and all artists—writers, painters, photographers, filmmakers, calligraphers, cake artists, and more—have the right to create freely without fear of government punishment. Cultural winds may shift, but freedom of speech is foundational to our self-government and to the free and fearless pursuit of truth,” Warner continued.

On the same day the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear Phillips’ prior case where Colorado tried to force him to create a custom cake celebrating a same-sex wedding—a case in which Phillips prevailed in 2018—an activist attorney called Masterpiece Cakeshop requesting that Phillips create a custom-designed cake, pink on the inside and blue on the outside, that would symbolize and celebrate a gender transition. The attorney then called back—requesting another custom cake depicting Satan smoking marijuana to “correct the errors of [Phillips’] thinking.” Phillips declined both requests because the cakes expressed messages that violate his core beliefs. The activist then filed this lawsuit. Phillips works with all people and always decides whether to take a project based on what message a cake will express, not who requests it.

In the petition filed in Scardina v. Masterpiece Cakeshop, ADF attorneys explain that “Phillips has been in court over a decade defending his right—and the right of all Americans—to create freely. And he’s faced hostility at nearly every turn. People of faith—like anyone else—should be ‘fully welcome in Colorado’s business community.’ They should not be forced to choose between their faith and their art. Protecting Phillips here will keep Colorado diverse and free for all.”

ADF attorneys are litigating both Phillips’ case and Smith’s case, 303 Creative v. Elenis. In both cases, Colorado officials are misusing state law to force artists to express messages that contradict their core beliefs and faith.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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Jake Warner
Jake Warner
Senior Counsel
Jake Warner serves as legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom’s Appellate Team.