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Attorney General Rutledge Supports Free Speech of Small Business Owners

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined a coalition of 16 state attorneys general in an amicus brief supporting free speech rights of small business owners. In Scardina v. Masterpiece Cakeshop Inc. before the Colorado Court of Appealsthe coalition argues that custom cakes are artistic works protected by the First Amendment.

“I stand with Jack Phillips and his company Masterpiece Cakeshop against the frivolous lawsuits attacking his First Amendment Right of Free Speech,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Tolerance is a two-way street, and the U.S. Supreme Court made that clear when it previously ruled for Jack.”

Jack Phillips, who owns Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, makes a living creating custom cakes. Jack declined to make a custom cake celebrating a gender transition because “[i]t would violate [his] religious beliefs to send a message to anyone that he would celebrate a gender transition.”  Jack was sued for allegedly violating the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA). The trial court found Jack violated the CADA and rejected his First Amendment defense. The coalition argues that the “Court here can look to the Supreme Court’s repeated protection of art, apply the same principles here, and recognize that Mr. Phillips is protected in this case by the First Amendment’s guarantee of Freedom of Expression.”

Attorney General Rutledge previously joined other state attorneys general in supporting Jack against Colorado’s attempt to punish him for declining to make a same-sex wedding cake that contradicted his religious beliefs.  In a landmark ruling in 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States sided with Jack. Joining Attorney General Rutledge are the Attorneys General of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and West Virginia.

Copy of coalition’s amicus brief here.