Trump Admin. Motions to Argue on Behalf of Jack Phillips in Supreme Court Gay Wedding Cake Case

Colorado baker Jack Phillips.
Colorado baker Jack Phillips. | (Screenshot: CBS 4)

President Donald Trump's administration has asked to be allowed to argue in favor of Colorado Christian baker Jack Phillips and his right to refuse to make gay wedding cakes, during oral arguments before the Supreme Court, which are set for Dec. 5.

"As a general matter, the United States has a substantial interest in the preservation of federal constitutional rights of free expression," the government's motion, filed Wednesday, reads. 

"In addition, the United States has a particular interest in the scope of such rights in the context of the Colorado statute here, which shares certain features with federal public accommodations laws including Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990."

The Trump administration already filed a brief in support of Phillips, arguing that the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause protects him from Colorado's public accommodation law. It is asking for 10 minutes of argument time during the December hearing.

The historic religious liberty case concerns Phillips, a Christian baker who was found guilty by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission in 2014 of discriminating against same-sex couple Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig in 2012 when he refused to make a cake for their wedding, citing his belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Phillips, has said that what's at stake is "the right of all Americans to create art and express ideas only when it is consistent with their convictions."

LGBT advocates have argued that gay couples should be able to receive the same service as everyone else, however.

The controversial Southern Poverty Law Center has branded ADF a "hate group." SPLC recently accused a group of African-American clergy who backed Phillips of supporting an "anti-LGBT hate group," referring to Phillips' legal representatives.

A group of conservative African-American clergy, including the Rev. William Avon Keen, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Virginia, held a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday to announce their backing of Phillips.

SPLC blasted the We Got Your Back Jack campaign website in support of Phillips, however, which is sponsored by African-American organizations the Frederick Douglass Foundation, the Radiance Foundation, and Urban Cure.

"This campaign isn't the first time that Christian Right groups have attempted to drive a wedge between African Americans and LGBT people, somehow ignoring the fact that there are African Americans and many other people of color who identify as LGBT," SPLC argued.

The watchdog group further warned that a Supreme Court ruling in favor of Phillips could "set precedent to allow business owners to use religion to discriminate and deny goods and services not only to LGBT people, but anyone with whom the owner took exception."

Conservative organizations, which often find themselves branded as "hate groups" on SPLC's list, have urged news outlets, such as CNN, to stop using the watchdog's data as a source of information.

"To associate public interest law firms and think tanks with neo-Nazis and the KKK is unconscionable, and represents the height of irresponsible journalism," 47 conservative groups said in a letter in September.

"All reputable news organizations should immediately stop using the SPLC's descriptions of individuals and organizations based on its obvious political prejudices," they added, describing SPLC as "an attack dog of the political left."

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

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