Attorneys for Denver-area cake artist Jack Phillips filed a motion Monday to dismiss a third lawsuit seeking to force him to create a cake that expresses a message contrary to his religious beliefs.
Colorado lawyer Autumn Scardina, who filed an unsuccessful complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission in 2017, is seeking $100,000 in monetary damages plus legal fees in the third lawsuit Phillips has faced in seven years.
Phillips, a Christian, is the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, a Denver suburb. He has operated his shop since 1993 and has focused his talents on artistic cakes.
“Phillips wants to peacefully live out his faith as a cake artist by serving all people while declining to express messages that violate his beliefs,” the July 22 motion to dismiss, filed by attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom, reads.
“After losing in court, the state [of Colorado] was content to leave Phillips alone to do just that. But Scardina won’t allow it.”
“Phillips requests that the court dismiss the complaint so that he can return to the life he had before the state and Scardina targeted him for his faith,” the motion concludes.
Phillips has said in the past that he not only has declined same-sex union cakes, but he also declines other types of cakes that go against his beliefs, including cakes for Halloween, bachelor parties, divorce, cakes with alcohol in the ingredients, and cakes with atheist messages.
Phillips in 2018 won a six year legal battle that led all the way up to the Supreme Court, whose ruling upheld Phillips’ religious freedom and freedom of expression in his declining to make a cake in 2012 that would have celebrated a same-sex union. Phillips said that particular kind of cake would violate his religious beliefs, but that he would create other kinds of cakes for the couple. Colorado law did not recognize same-sex unions as marriages at the time.
Three months after winning the Supreme Court case, Scardina, who identifies as a transgender woman, sued Phillips for his refusal to make Scardina a gender transition cake – pink on the inside and blue on the outside.
Phillips then countersued the state of Colorado, claiming that he was being persecuted for his religious beliefs. The case was dropped in March 2019 “after the discovery phase demonstrated that the state was displaying ‘anti-religious hostility’ by continuing to pursue Phillips,’” the National Review reported.
Scardina on June 5 of this year sued Phillips for a second time, claiming that he refused to make Scardina a birthday cake.
According to the complaint, filed with the District Court for the city and county of Denver, Scardina called Masterpiece Cakeshop to order a “birthday cake – one in a simple design that Defendants admit they would make for any other customer.”
The complaint noted that Phillips has said previously that he would be happy to make other kinds of cakes for LGBT individuals, as long as they expressed messages that did not violate his religious beliefs.
In the call, Scardina requested from Masterpiece Cakeshop a birthday cake for 6-8 people, with pink cake and blue frosting. A Masterpiece Cakeshop employee confirmed to Scardina that they could make such a cake.
“Ms. Scardina then informed Masterpiece Cakeshop that the requested design had personal significance for her because it reflects her status as a transgender female,” the complaint states.
It was at this point that Masterpiece Cakeshop told Scardina that they “did not make cakes for ‘sex changes.’” Scardina reconfirmed that it was a birthday cake, but Masterpiece Cakeshop declined to take the order and ended the call, according to the complaint.
Scardina called Masterpiece Cakeshop again, in case the previous call had been unintentionally disconnected, the complaint states. Scardina spoke to a different Masterpiece Cakeshop employee about the same order, and that employee also declined the order, saying that making such a cake would violate their religious beliefs.
“Masterpiece Cakeshop, at the direction of Phillips, refused to sell a birthday cake to Ms. Scardina because of her status as a transgender woman,” the complaint states.
The cake Scardina mentions in the new complaint is notably similar to the gender transition cake Scardina requested from Masterpiece Cakeshop in 2017, which was also requested to be made with pink cake and blue frosting.
ADF reported that Scardina had also asked Phillips to create a custom cake depicting satanic themes and images.