In July, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop, whose owner Jack Phillips had been fined by the Colorado Civil Rights Division for declining to bake a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. Twenty-four days later, however, the division issued yet another “probable-cause determination” against Phillips for declining to bake a cake—blue on the outside, pink on the inside—to celebrate a potential customer’s “transitioning” from male to female. Notably, Autumn Scardina, the person requested this cake, did so on June 26, 2017, the same day the Supreme Court announced that it would review the original case. David French comments:
Lest anyone wonder whether this request was made in good faith, consider that this same person apparently made a number of requests to Masterpiece Cakeshop. In September 2017, a caller asked Phillips to design a birthday cake for Satan that would feature an image of Satan smoking marijuana. The name “Scardina” appeared on the caller identification. A few days earlier, a person had emailed Phillips asking for a cake with a similar theme—except featuring “an upside-down cross, under the head of Lucifer.” This same emailer reminded Phillips that “religion is a protected class.” On the very day that Phillips won his case at the Supreme Court, a person emailed with yet another deliberately offensive design request. . . .
With its probable-cause finding, the Colorado Civil Rights Division demonstrates it’s as foolish as it is malicious. It has just launched yet another legal campaign against Phillips based on nothing more than a bad-faith complaint from an angry troll. It hasn’t cured its devotion to double standards. And by seeking to punish Phillips when the expressive message of the proposed cake is crystal clear, the Division has only strengthened his First Amendment claim.
In recent months, we’ve seen that trolling and shaming work all too well when the relevant power is a private corporation. . . . But . . . government officials can’t empower the outrage mob. They can’t engage in viewpoint discrimination, and if they act with actual animus, they can and should be held personally liable for violating a citizen’s core constitutional rights.