- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Christian baker bringing his high-profile case before the Supreme Court later this year filed his opening brief with the court on Thursday, telling the justices he has lost 40 percent of his family income and most of his employees since he was forced not to sell wedding cakes to avoid violating his religious beliefs.

The high court agreed to hear Jack Phillips’ case in June after he refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado and was ordered by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to bake wedding cakes for same-sex couples or else cease baking wedding cakes all together.

The Colorado Court of Appeals agreed with the commission, but Mr. Phillips is hoping the Supreme Court will protect his right to create and sell his custom wedding cakes under the protection of the First Amendment’s free-speech clause.

Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious liberty law firm, is representing Mr. Phillips and hopes the court will recognize his custom-made wedding cakes as a form of art.

“The cake, which serves as the iconic centerpiece of the marriage celebration, announces through Phillips’s voice that a marriage has occurred and should be celebrated,” reads the legal brief. “The government can no more force Phillips to speak those messages with his lips than to express them through his art.”

Court watchers are highly anticipating the ruling in Mr. Phillips’ case, as several legal challenges are being filed in states across the country, including one appeal by a Washington florist, who say they have a constitutional right to refuse to participate in same-sex weddings against their religious beliefs.

But Louise Melling, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union — which is representing the same-sex couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, who initiated the complaint against Mr. Phillips — objects that Mr. Phillips’ reasoning effectively turns the First Amendment into a license to discriminate.

“It’s a question of whether David and Charlie … and others throughout the country are going to be protected from discrimination,” said Ms. Melling after the high court agreed to take the case. “They were turned away because of who they are — a same-sex couple.”

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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