Supreme Court to hear same-sex marriage case of Christian web designer

Lori Smith
Lori Smith |

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of a Christian web designer challenging a Colorado state law requiring her to create marriage websites for same-sex couples if she proposes also similar services to other couples.

In a list of orders published on Tuesday morning, the High Court agreed to hear an appeal in the case of 303 Creative LLC et al v. Aubrey Elenis, et al.

“The motion for writ of certiorari is granted, limited to the following question: Does the application of a public accommodation law to compel a performer to speak or remain silent violate the Freedom of phrase of the First Amendment?, the ordinance reads.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group representing web designer Lorie Smith and her company, 303 Creative, welcomed the High Court’s decision to hear the appeal.

“This could be a historic case for religious freedom and artistic freedom,” said the ADF on Twitter shortly after the order was posted. “We look forward to representing Lorie in the high court.”

“The government does not have the power to silence or compel creative expression under threat of sanction. It is shocking that the 10th Circuit allows Colorado to punish artists whose speech is inconsistent with state-sanctioned ideology,” ADF General Counsel Kristen Wagoner said in a statement. .

“Colorado has weaponized its law to silence speech it disagrees with, to compel speech it endorses, and to punish anyone who dares to disagree. Colorado law – and others like it – is a clear and present danger to the constitutionally protected freedoms of every American and the very existence of a diverse and free nation.

In 2016, Smith filed a pre-enforcement court challenge to Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, arguing that the law would require him to provide services that contradicted his religious views that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. woman.

A key issue was that Smith wanted to start building websites for weddings, but she was unwilling to provide those services for same-sex weddings due to her religious objections to unions.

In July of last year, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled 2 to 1 against 303 Creative, finding that “Colorado has a compelling interest in protecting both the interests of dignity members of marginalized groups and their material interests in accessing the commercial market”.

“When regulating business entities, like the appellants, public housing laws help ensure a free and open economy,” Circuit Judge Mary Beck Briscoe, a Clinton appointee, wrote in the majority.

“Thus, while the commercial nature of the appellants’ activities does not diminish their interest in speaking, it does give Colorado an absent state interest when regulating non-commercial activities.”

Circuit Chief Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote a dissent, concluding that “the Constitution protects Mrs. Smith from the government telling her what to say or do.”

“But the majority take the remarkable – and novel – position that the government can force Ms. Smith to produce messages that violate her conscience,” Tymkovich wrote.

“In doing so, the majority finds not only that Colorado has a compelling interest in forcing Ms. Smith to deliver a government-sanctioned message against her religious beliefs, but also that its public lodging law is the least restrictive means of achieve this goal.. No case has ever gone this far.

In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Christian baker Jack Phillips, arguing that the state of Colorado violated the baker’s First Amendment rights by penalizing him for refusing to bake a custom cake for a gay wedding. In Decision 7-2, the court held that the laws should be applied in a “religion-neutral” manner.

Last July, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case of a Washington-based Christian florist punished by the state for refusing to provide flower arrangements at a same-sex wedding. Last November, the florist, Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers, agreed to pay $5,000 and retire as part of a settlement amid a lengthy legal battle.

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