- The Washington Times
Friday, May 12, 2017

President Trump’s new executive order promoting religious liberty won’t help a Colorado baker who faces penalties for refusing to make a cake for the wedding of a same-sex couple.

Mr. Trump’s executive order, signed earlier this month, instructs federal agencies to do more to protect religious freedom, after a sense that the Obama administration had turned the government hostile to those who follow their faith in public.

But the order does not help those like Jack Phillips, a baker, who has run afoul of a state ruling that he cannot refuse service to customers based on their sexual orientation.

Jim Campbell, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a religious liberty law firm representing Mr. Phillips, said Mr. Trump’s executive order doesn’t reach “a state or local government entity that is creating the freedom of religion problem.”

Instead, Mr. Phillips and a Washington state florist, Barronelle Stutzman, who recently was sued after refusing to arrange flowers for a same-sex wedding, will ask the Supreme Court to step in.

Mr. Phillips’ case is already before the Court, where the justices are deciding whether to take it up as part of their next term that begins in October.

Douglas Laycock, a law professor at the University of Virginia, said the Trump order won’t play a role, but if the administration wants to weigh in it could file legal briefs in support of Mr. Phillips and Ms. Stutzman.

“These decisions are usually made by the Solicitor General, not the President. I have no idea whether they are thinking about possibly filing,” Mr. Laycock said in an email.

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