Next fall, the Supreme Court will hear arguments from a Colorado graphic designer who claims a state law requires her to provide services for same-sex marriages, a violation of her religious beliefs and her right to freedom of speech.
Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal nonprofit focused on protecting religious freedom and free speech, held a press conference Wednesday outside the U.S. Capitol to highlight Lorie Smith’s lawsuit against the Human Rights Commission Colorado civilians.
“We should all be free to say what we believe, even if the government disagrees with those beliefs,” Smith said. said at the event.
The legislators present understood the senses. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, James Lankford, R-Okla., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., along with Reps. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz. , and Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo.
A total of 18 senators and 38 House Republicans filed an amicus brief on June 2 supporting Smith.
“Free speech is an inalienable human right, and it is the foundation of self-government,” said ADF General Counsel Kristen Wagoner. said at the press conference. “The government does not grant us this right, but fortunately our Constitution protects it and we are the guardians of this freedom.”
Smith went to court in 2020 over Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, which the graphic designer said would force her and her company, 303 Creative, to create projects that violate her personal religious beliefs about marriage.
Smith refuses to create custom wedding websites for same-sex couples, saying creating such work would require him to condone the content. “Lorie enjoys working with people from all walks of life, but, like most artists, cannot promote every message,” reads an ADF press release.
Smith’s case is similar to the long-running legal struggle of Colorado baker Jack Phillips, a Christian who the Human Rights Commission found had discriminated against gay people because he had refused to create a personalized cake to celebrate the marriage of two men.
ADF argues that like Phillips, also its client, Smith and others should be allowed to “create freely.”
The graphic designer is appealing a July 2021 ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Colorado could force Smith to design projects that flagrantly violate his beliefs, due to the so-called state duty to ensure equal access to his “personalized expression”.
The 10th Circuit ruled against Smith while acknowledging that his refusal to create projects for same-sex couples was based solely on his objection to content, not customers, and asserting that creating a website is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment.
During the press conference, Cruz said that the Smith case in the Supreme Court had universal significance and would set an important precedent for free speech:
Colorado wants to compel the discourse of Christian artists and business owners who refuse to use their God-given talents to celebrate events contrary to what their faith teaches. Colorado law restricts the basic First Amendment rights of Lorie and other business owners like her. And it’s not just targeting Christians.
Consider it this: Should a Muslim artist be compelled by the government to draw the image of Muhammad? Should Jewish artists be forced to create art they consider anti-Semitic? Should a Democratic political firm be forced to take on Republican clients?
Smith appealed to the Supreme Court last September and the High Court accepted his case in February. The high court will hear oral argument in 303 Creative v. Elenis, in the fall.
According to a court brief, Smith seeks permission to “design marriage websites that further her understanding of marriage” and to “post a statement explaining that she can only speak messages consistent with her faith.”
Indeed, she seeks High Court protection from Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, which “requires her to create personalized websites celebrating same-sex marriage and prohibits her reporting, even though Colorado states that she” works[s] with everyone, regardless of… sexual orientation.
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