Colorado high court to hear case against Christian baker who refused to make LGBTQ-themed cake

FILE - Jack Phillips, who's case was heard by the Supreme Court several years ago after he objected to designing a wedding cake for a gay couple, speaks to supporters outside the Supreme Court, Dec. 5, 2022, in Washington. Colorado’s highest court said Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, that it will hear the case of Phillips, a Christian baker who refused to make a cake celebrating a gender transition. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
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By Colleen Slevin and Jesse Bedayn

Associated Press

DENVER (AP) — On the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court victory this summer for a graphic artist who didn’t want to design wedding websites for same-sex couples, Colorado’s highest court said Tuesday it will now hear the case of a Christian baker who refused to make a cake celebrating a gender transition.

The announcement by the Colorado Supreme Court is the latest development in the yearslong legal saga involving Jack Phillips and LGBTQ+ rights.

Phillips won a partial victory before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 after refusing to make a gay couple’s wedding cake.

He was later sued by Autumn Scardina, a transgender woman, after Phillips and his suburban Denver bakery refused to make a pink cake with blue frosting for her birthday and to celebrate her gender transition.

Scardina, an attorney, said she brought the lawsuit to “challenge the veracity” of Phillips’ statements that he would serve LGBTQ+ customers. Her attorney said her cake order was not a “set up” intended to file a lawsuit.

The Colorado Supreme Court didn’t explain how or why it made the determination to hear the case. It was announced in a long list of decisions about which cases they will hear and reject.

The case involves the state’s anti-discrimination law that makes it illegal to refuse to provide services to people based on protected characteristics like race, religion or sexual orientation. The key issue in the case is whether the cakes Phillips creates are a form of speech and whether forcing him to make a cake with a message he does not support is a violation of his First Amendment right to free speech.