California Will Relaunch ‘Witch Hunt’ Investigation Into California Bakeshop
by Grace Carr
California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is relaunching an administrative investigation of Tastries Bakery owner Cathy Miller.
“This is a witch hunt. Once again, the California government is proving that it will stop at nothing to punish Cathy for her Christian faith,” Miller’s attorney, Charles LiMandri, said in a statement, according to a Friday press release. He is the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund’s (FCDF) chief counsel.
The investigation comes after Superior Court Judge David Lampe denied the state of California’s request for a preliminary injunction that sought to force bakeshop owner Miller to design a wedding cake for a gay couple. The Feb. 5 ruling said the state couldn’t force a cake shop owner to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding because it would constitute a violation of free speech.
“For this court to force such compliance would do violence to the essentials of Free Speech guaranteed under the First Amendment,” Lampe ruled. The ruling comes after two women asked Miller to design their wedding cake and filed a complaint with the state, alleging that Miller discriminated against them on the basis of sexual orientation. They also posted about the incident on social media. The state launched an investigation following the complaint and sought a court order to force Miller to bake the wedding cake.
Wedding cakes make up 40 percent of the bakeshop’s business.
California law mandates that a final judgment is the ultimate determination of a party’s rights, legally vindicating Miller. “The court’s ruling ended this case. The DFEH had their chance to appeal the ruling, but they conceded defeat. Any further action the government takes against Cathy is merely to bully and persecute her,” LiMandri said.
California’s impending investigation comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 4 in favor of a Christian baker who refused to bake a custom wedding cake for a same-sex wedding. The court ruled that a state agency had not neutrally applied its anti-discrimination law to the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, in 2012. The court did not address the First Amendment question raised by the case.
The DFEH said it will interrogate Miller, her husband and an employee in early August. The FCDF will seek to enforce the existing judgment and seek attorneys’ fees.
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