Colorado and Masterpiece Cakeshop Agree to Stop Suing Each Other

Jack Phillips and the State of Colorado are done fighting...for now.
Jack Phillips and the State of Colorado are done fighting...for now.
Colorado Christian University
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Jack Phillips might be the most famous baker in these here United States, but not because of what rises in his oven. The owner of Lakewood's Masterpiece Cakeshop has been in and out of courthouses since at least 2012, fighting for his right to discriminate against certain customers whose lifestyles don't jibe with his Christian beliefs.

The case that made him a hero for the religious right ended last year — sort of — when the U.S. Supreme Court declared that Colorado's Civil Rights Commission hadn't been entirely neutral when it sided with Charlie Craig and David Mullins, a gay couple that sued Phillips after he refused to bake them a wedding cake. By the end of last year, Phillips was in court again over a similar case, in which Denver attorney Autumn Scardina alleged he wouldn't bake her a cake to celebrate her gender-affirmation surgery. The Civil Rights Commission took up the case, and Phillips lawyered up.

Armed with counsel from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative nonprofit law firm, Phillips took the State of Colorado to court for supposedly punishing him for again citing religious beliefs when denying a customer.

But today, March 5, the Colorado Attorney General's Office and the cake shop announced a ceasefire: Both sides agreed to end their ongoing state and federal litigation against each other. Each side will "bear their own costs and attorneys' fees," the AG's office said in a statement, and Scardina can still pursue a claim on her own.

"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," the statement continued.

“After careful consideration of the facts, both sides agreed it was not in anyone’s best interest to move forward with these cases," said AG Phil Weiser,  whose office represents the Commission, in the statement. "The larger constitutional issues might well be decided down the road, but these cases will not be the vehicle for resolving them. Equal justice for all will continue to be a core value that we will uphold as we enforce our state’s and nation’s civil-rights laws."

The Alliance Defending Freedom called the decision a win for Phillips. “Jack’s victory is great news for everyone," said ADF Senior Vice President of U.S. Legal Division Kristen Waggoner, who argued on behalf of Phillips at the U.S. Supreme Court, in a statement. "Tolerance and respect for good-faith differences of opinion are essential in a diverse society like ours. They enable us to peacefully coexist with each another. But the state’s demonstrated and ongoing hostility toward Jack because of his beliefs is undeniable.”

But the real winners are Coloradans, who never have to hear about Masterpiece Cakeshop again. Maybe. 

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.