Scardina v. Masterpiece Cakeshop, Inc.

Last modified 2024.02.27

  • Status Ongoing
  • Type Amicus
  • Court State Court
  • Issues Discrimination by Businesses, Fighting Discrimination, LGBTQ Equality, Religious Minorities

Case Documents

On the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, addressing whether a Colorado baker had a First Amendment right to refuse to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, Autumn Scardina called the same bakery to request a custom birthday cake. Scardina, a family-law attorney and transgender woman in Colorado, wanted to see if baker Jack Phillips’ claims were true that he would create cakes for all customers, including LGBTQ+ customers, so long as the requested cakes did not convey a message that contradicted his religious beliefs. 

When the bakery answered Scardina’s call, she described the kind of custom cake she wanted—a simple pink cake with blue frosting. The bakery assured Scardina that it could make such a cake. Scardina then disclosed that she had selected those colors to celebrate her gender transition, since she had previously come out as trans on her birthday. Despite having just agreed to make her requested cake, the bakery reversed itself and told Scardina that they could no longer make that cake because of its message.

Scardina filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, which found that the bakery had likely violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) by discriminating against Scardina based on her transgender status. When the government settled its administrative case, Scardina sued the bakery in state court and won in both the trial court and the court of appeals.

The baker, represented once again by Alliance Defending Freedom, appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court, arguing that he has a First Amendment right to discriminate in the provision of his custom bakery services. On February 27, 2024, Americans United filed an amicus brief on behalf of religious and civil-rights organizations, explaining that the Free Exercise Clause does not require exemptions from neutral and general public accommodations laws like CADA and that antidiscrimination laws actually protect religious freedom. 

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