Sunday, Mar 26, 2023

Supreme Court's conservative majority appears sympathetic to Christian graphic designer who refuses to create websites for same-sex weddings

Supreme Court's conservative majority appears sympathetic to Christian graphic designer who refuses to create websites for same-sex weddings

Lorie Smith claims Colorado is forcing her to create messages that go against her religious beliefs, violating her free-speech rights.
Lorie Smith, a Christian graphic designer in Colorado, says she wants to combine her love of weddings and storytelling by expanding her business to design wedding websites. But she refuses to create content that she says contradicts her faith, such as celebrating same-sex weddings, resulting in a legal battle that's landed at the Supreme Court.

The 38-year-old is the owner of 303 Creative, a Denver-based graphic design firm that she's been running for more than a decade. Smith highlights her faith on her website and emphasizes that she avoids communicating messages that are "inconsistent with her religious beliefs."

At the heart of the case is a Colorado law that forbids businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation. Smith claims the anti-discrimination law forces her to promote messages she's against, violating her First Amendment free speech rights. 

"As a Christian, I can't separate my faith from who I am," Smith told Insider in a recent interview. "And so the state is asking me to create artwork to celebrate things that go against the core of who I am, and nobody should be put in that position."

The Supreme Court on Monday heard more than two hours of oral arguments on the dispute, which touched on the intersection of religious liberty and LGBTQ+ rights. But the justices are reviewing the case through a free speech lens, addressing the question of whether "applying a public-accommodation law to compel an artist to speak or stay silent violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment."

Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group representing 303 Creative, told the Supreme Court that Smith serves all kinds of clients, including those who identify as LGBTQ+, but that she should not be required to make websites for same-sex weddings. 

"Ms. Smith believes opposite-sex marriage honors scripture and same-sex marriage contradicts it," attorney Kristen Waggoner argued Monday. 

The court's 6-3 conservative majority appeared sympathetic to Smith's position. Justice Neil Gorsuch raised a hypothetical situation of a freelancer who's been asked to write a press release for a group they disagree with, seemingly distinguishing between a business declining to express a message and declining to serve a client. 

"I offer to write press releases for anyone, it's not 'who', but it is a 'what,'" Gorsuch said. "And the 'what' is I won't write a press release that expresses religious views or that I disagree with."

The state of Colorado disputes Smith's argument, defending that its law does not force any speech, but only requires businesses to serve all Colorado customers, regardless of their sexual orientation. Lower courts have sided with the state. 

The state warns that a ruling in favor of Smith could have far-reaching consequences, enabling businesses to discriminate not only based on sexual orientation but also potentially on the basis of gender, race, religion, and disability.

"Our concern is this case threatens to create a loophole that firms could deny service to someone based on who they are, claiming some expressive interest on the behalf of the business owner," Attorney General Phil Weiser told Insider. "That loophole has never existed in our law before. If you create it, it could do considerable damage to this important anti-discrimination norm that's long been a part of Colorado law and the federal law."

The state on Monday told the Supreme Court that 303 Creative's position is "sweeping" because it could open the door to businesses promoting "all sorts of racist, sexist and bigoted views."

"This rule would allow another web design company to say, 'no interracial couples served,' an ad agency could refuse women-led businesses, and a tech consulting company could refuse to serve 303 Creative itself because it disagreed with the owner's religion," Colorado Solicitor General Eric Olson said.

"This court should not upend long-settled law that protects the full and equal access of all Americans to our public marketplace," he added.

The high-profile challenge is reminiscent of a Supreme Court case that also came out of Colorado years ago, when baker Jack Phillips refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs. The justices in 2018 narrowly ruled in favor of Phillips, but failed to confront the free speech issues that are at stake now. 

"It's certainly been a rollercoaster of a ride, but what I'm standing to protect is the right for all to speak freely, whether your views on marriage are similar to mine or different," Smith told Insider. "That right to speak freely and to live and work consistently with our own beliefs is essential to a free society."

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision in the case, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, by June.

Related Articles

Powell: Silicon Valley Bank was an 'outlier'
Bordeaux town hall set on fire in France pro democracy protest
Police violence in Paris
Donald Trump arrested – Twitter goes wild with doctored pictures
NYPD is setting up barricades outside Manhattan Criminal Court ahead of Trump arrest.
Credit Suisse's Scandalous History Resulted in an Obvious Collapse - It's time for regulators who fail to do their job to be held accountable and serve as an example by being behind bars.
Paris Rioting vs Macron anti democratic law
'Sexual Fantasy' Assignment At US School Outrages Parents
The US government has charged Chinese businessman Guo Wengui with leading a $1 billion fraud scheme that cheated thousands of followers out of their money.
Credit Suisse to borrow $54 billion from Swiss central bank
Russian Hackers Preparing New Cyber Assault Against Ukraine
"Will Fly Wherever International Law Allows": US Warns Russia After Drone Incident
If this was in Tehran, Moscow or Hong Kong
TRUMP: "Standing before you today, I am the only candidate who can make this promise: I will prevent World War III."
Drew Barrymore
China is calling out the US, UK, and Australia on their submarine pact, claiming they are going further down a dangerous road
A brief banking situation report
Lady bites police officer and gets instantly reaction
We are witnessing widespread bank fails and the president just gave a 5 min speech then walked off camera.
Donald Trump's asked by Tucker Carlson question on if the U.S. should support regime change in Russia?.
Silicon Valley Bank exec was Lehman Brothers CFO
Elon Musk Is Planning To Build A Town In Texas For His Employees
The Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse effect is spreading around the world, affecting startup companies across the globe
City officials in Berlin announced on Thursday that all swimmers at public pools will soon be allowed to swim topless
Fitness scam
Market Chaos as USDC Loses Peg to USD after $3.3 Billion Reserves Held by Silicon Valley Bank Closed.
Senator Tom Cotton: If the Mexican Government Won’t Stop Cartels from Killing Americans, Then U.S. Government Should
Banking regulators close SVB, the largest bank failure since the financial crisis
Silicon Valley Bank: Struggles Threaten Tech Startup Ecosystem"
Man’s penis amputated by mistake after he’s wrongly diagnosed with a tumour
In a major snub to Downing Street's Silicon Valley dreams, UK chip giant Arm has dealt a serious blow to the government's economic strategy by opting for a US listing
It's the question on everyone's lips: could a four-day workweek be the future of employment?
Is Gold the Ultimate Safe Haven Asset in Times of Uncertainty?
Spain officials quit over trains that were too wide for tunnels...
Corruption and Influence Buying Uncovered in International Mainstream Media: Investigation Reveals Growing Disinformation Mercenaries
Givenchy Store in New York Robbed of $50,000 in Merchandise
European MP Clare Daly condemns US attack on Nord Stream
Former U.S. President Carter will spend his remaining time at home and receive hospice care instead of medication
Tucker Carlson called Trump a 'demonic force'
Kamala Harris: "The United States has formally determined that Russia has committed crimes against humanity."
US Joins 15 NATO Nations in Largest Space Data Collection Initiative in History
White House: No ETs over the United States
U.S. Jet Shoots Down Flying Object Over Canada
Nord Stream terror attack: David Sacks breaks down Sy Hersh's story
Being a Tiktoker might be expensive…
Miracle: El Salvador Search and Rescue teams, with the support of Turkish teams, rescued a woman and a child from the rubble 150 hours after the earthquake
SpaceX, the private space exploration company, made a significant breakthrough in their mission to reach space.
China's top tech firms, including Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, NetEase, and, are developing their own versions of Open AI's AI-powered chatbot, ChatGPT
This shocking picture, showing how terrible is the results of the earthquake in Turkey
President Joe Biden delivered the 2023 State of the Union Address , in order to help Americans that missed the 2022 speech, do not have internet, and suffer from short memory.