Jack Phillips is America’s most famous baker. People have taken him all the way to the Supreme Court in hopes of getting it to force him to bake them one of his custom cakes. This week he’s back in the dock, again defending his refusal to bake a custom cake with a message he says goes against his Christian faith.
Phillips owns Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., and holds traditional views on marriage and sexuality. The first legal action against him came via the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, when in 2012 he declined to bake a custom cake for a same-sex wedding and found himself accused of unlawful discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. This time he’s being sued because he wouldn’t bake a cake celebrating a gender transition.
“Jack is being targeted for his religious beliefs,” says Kristen Waggoner, general counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, who defended Phillips in his first case and continues to represent him. “His opponents are weaponizing the law to punish and destroy him because he won’t create expression that violates his Christian faith. They want to make the law an arm of cancel culture.”
In the first go-round, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018), the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 for Mr. Phillips. But it did so narrowly, on grounds that the commission had displayed “clear and impermissible hostility” to Mr. Phillips’s religious beliefs. (One commissioner compared Mr. Phillips’s invocation of his Christian beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust.) The court left unresolved the key constitutional question: Can the government compel people to create speech or artistic expressions to which they profoundly object?