The Colorado baker who won a partial Supreme Court victory after refusing to make a gay couple’s wedding cake because of his Christian faith lost an appeal Thursday in his latest legal fight, which involved his rejection of a request for a birthday cake celebrating a gender transition.
The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the cake Autumn Scardina requested from Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop, which was to be pink with blue frosting, was not a form of speech.
The court also found that the state law making it illegal to refuse services to people based on protected characteristics such as race, religion or sexual orientation does not violate business owners’ right to practice or express their religion.
Relying on the findings of a Denver judge in a 2021 trial in the dispute, the appeals court said Phillips’ shop initially agreed to make the cake but then refused after Scardina explained that she was going to use it to celebrate her transition from male to female.
Phillips, who is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, maintains that the cakes he creates are a form of speech and plans to appeal.
“One need not agree with Jack’s views to agree that all Americans should be free to say what they believe, even if the government disagrees with those beliefs,” ADF senior counsel Jake Warner said in a statement.
John McHugh, one of the lawyers who represent Scardina, said the court looked carefully at all the arguments and evidence from the trial.
“They just object to the idea of Ms. Scardina wanting a birthday cake that reflects her status as a transgender woman because they object to the existence of transgender people,” he said of Phillips and his shop.
In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had acted with anti-religious bias in enforcing the anti-discrimination law against Phillips after he refused to bake a cake celebrating the wedding of Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins in 2012. The justices called the commission unfairly dismissive of Phillips’ religious beliefs.
Israel’s defense minister signaled Friday that the military would stop its airstrikes if Palestinian militant groups halted rocket attacks, a day after the deadliest Israeli raid in decades raised the prospect of a major flare-up in fighting.
The limited exchange of fire between militants in Gaza and the Israeli armed forces has so far followed a familiar pattern that allows both sides to respond without leading to a major escalation. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s instruction to the military to prepare for new strikes in the Gaza Strip “if necessary” also appeared to leave open the possibility that the violence would subside.
Midday prayers at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque compound, often a catalyst for clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police, passed in relative calm, despite a heavy police presence. Still, residents of the holy city and the occupied West Bank remained on edge.
The bombardments followed an Israeli raid in the flashpoint Jenin refugee camp that turned into a gun battle, which killed at least nine people, including seven militants and a 61-year-old woman.
The escalation in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict created an early test for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new far-right government, which came to office as tensions with the Palestinians soared and has vowed to take a hard line.
The raid also prompted the Palestinian Authority to halt security coordination with Israel and drew “deep concern” from the U.S. State Department just days before Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken was expected to visit the region.
So far, both the Palestinian rockets and Israeli airstrikes seemed limited so as to prevent escalation into a full-blown war. Israel and Hamas have fought four wars and several smaller skirmishes since the militant group seized power in Gaza from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.
Militants fired rockets from Gaza toward the south of Israel. Israel retaliated with nonlethal airstrikes on militant targets in Gaza, such as training camps and an underground rocket manufacturing site.
Gallant claimed that the military had dealt a “tough blow” to Gaza militants and said the army was preparing to strike “high-quality targets … until peace is restored to the citizens of Israel.”
An uneasy calm prevailed around the Al Aqsa compound, which is also revered by Jews as the Temple Mount. Tensions at the volatile Jerusalem holy site has triggered violence in the past, including a bloody Gaza war in 2021. The site is considered both the third-most sacred site in Islam and is the site of an ancient Jewish temple that is the holiest place in Judaism.
Israeli police were out in force at entrances to the limestone alleys that lead to the sacred compound. Scores of Muslim worshipers gathered in the mosque’s stone courtyard before the iconic golden Dome of the Rock and chanted in solidarity with those killed in the Jenin raid.
“In spirit and blood, we will sacrifice you!” they shouted. “Greetings, Jenin! Greetings, Gaza!”
Eyad Shaher, a 45-year-old construction worker from Bethlehem who prays weekly at Al Aqsa, said he was relieved to have a peaceful morning.
“Thank God it was good and there were no problems after that cursed day,” he said, referring to Thursday’s events.
Tensions have soared since Israel stepped up raids in the West Bank last spring, following a series of Palestinian attacks. Jenin, which was an important a militant stronghold during the 2000-2005 intifada and has again emerged as one, has been the focus of many of the Israeli operations.
Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem last year, making 2022 the deadliest in those territories since 2004, according to leading Israeli rights group B’Tselem. Last year, 30 people were killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis.
So far this year, 30 Palestinians have been killed, according to a count by the Associated Press.
Israel says most of the dead were militants. But youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in the confrontations also have been killed.
Anwar Gargash, a senior diplomat in the United Arab Emirates, warned Friday that “the Israeli escalation in Jenin is dangerous and disturbing and undermines international efforts to advance the priority of the peace agenda.” The UAE recognized Israel in 2020 along with Bahrain, which has remained silent on the surge in violence.
News of the nine killed in Jenin and the overnight rockets blared from phones and radios in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday as young Palestinians milled around and women hawked raisins.
Ibrahim Salameh, a 21-year-old smoking on the steps of Damascus Gate, said he had never been so scared. On Wednesday, he said, his teenage neighbor was killed as police entered the Shuafat refugee camp to demolish an attacker’s home.