“We hope that the state is done going along with obvious efforts to harass Jack.”
Colorado has ended its years-long legal campaign against Christian baker Jack Phillips after evidence emerged that state officials have an anti-religious bias.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission agreed Tuesday to drop its latest legal action against Phillips for alleged discrimination, this time over his refusal to bake a cake for a transgender event. The baker also said he would halt his lawsuit claiming that the state was the party doing the discriminating – against him as a Christian.
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“Under the terms of the agreement, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission will voluntarily dismiss the state administrative action against Masterpiece Cakeshop and its owner, Jack Phillips, and Mr. Phillips will voluntarily dismiss his federal court case against the State,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a statement.
“After careful consideration of the facts, both sides agreed it was not in anyone’s best interest to move forward with these cases.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian group that legally represented Phillips in the matter, also issued statement claiming victory over the state. It linked the development to a revelation by a state legislator that he had reason to believe the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was biased against religion.
“The fact that one commissioner called Phillips a ‘hater’ on Twitter was already publicly known,” the announcement said. “But a Colorado state legislator recently disclosed that he spoke in November 2018 to a current commissioner who expressed the belief that “there is anti-religious bias on the Commission.”
“We hope that the state is done going along with obvious efforts to harass Jack,” the group’s senior counsel, Jim Campbell, said in the announcement. “He shouldn’t be driven out of business just because some people disagree with his religious beliefs and his desire to live consistently with them.”
Writing for National Review Wednesday, conservative lawyer and commentator David French said it was remarkable “that Colorado had actually doubled-down on the religious bigotry that caused it to lose at the Supreme Court.”
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After Phillips cited his religious beliefs in refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple in 2012, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission successfully sued him in state court. But Phillips took the case all the way to the US Supreme Court, which in 2017 ruled 7-2 in his favor.
The decision was made on the narrow grounds that the commission did not act with religious neutrality, and so violated Phillips’ right to free exercise of religion.
Undeterred, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission last December again charged Phillips with discrimination, this time over his refusal to bake a cake celebrating a gender transition. However, facing the prospect of another losing battle in federal court, the commission finally gave up.
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