After a lower court ruled that Colorado’s anti-discrimination law required it to create content for straight and same-sex couples, website designer Lorie Smith is asking the United States Supreme Court to consider whether the decision constitutes an unconstitutional burden on his religion. exercise.
The case pits worshipers’ free speech rights against the government’s interest in combating discrimination based on sexual orientation, in a case where the two are at odds.
Although Smith claimed that she would not discriminate against LGBTQ clients, she simultaneously sought to create wedding websites in accordance with her Christian beliefs, including announcing to prospective clients that she “cannot. not create websites for same-sex marriages or any other marriages. it’s not between a man and a woman. “
By a 2-1 decision in July, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit upheld CADA, as state law is known. CADA prohibits the denial of goods or services based on sexual orientation in public accommodation. The the majority of the panel concluded the law applied to Smith and his company, 303 Creative, because it sought to sell its services to the public.
Senior Judge Mary Beck Briscoe, appointed by the Clinton administration, has acknowledged that the law requires Smith to create content in a way that violates his religious beliefs, but CADA is “closely aligned with Colorado’s best interests in securing equal access to the commercial market “.
Smith has now filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, arguing that the ruling has the effect of encouraging governments to regulate opinions through anti-discrimination laws.
“The Tenth Circuit has taken the extreme position that the government can compel an artist – any artist – to create expressive content, even if that content violates their faith,” Smith’s lawyers wrote to the Defending Freedom Alliance. in a petition to the Supreme Court. The majority opinion of the 10th Circuit indicated that the ruling only applied to artists engaged in commercial rather than unpaid activity.
Smith’s petition cited in dissent by Chief Justice Timothy M. Tymkovich, a person appointed by President George W. Bush. Tymkovich called the move unprecedented and called the enforcement of the anti-discrimination law a way to force Smith to deliver a “government-approved message.”
“Although I hate to refer to Orwell, the majority opinion approves of substantial government interference in speech, religion and conscience,” he added.
Smith is also asking the Supreme Court, if judges hear his case, to consider whether to overturn his 1990 ruling in Division of Employment c. Smith. The ruling established that governments can enact laws that impose constraints on religious exercise, as long as the laws do not distinguish between religion. It was a key clarification of First Amendment rights that changed the understanding of religion-based exemptions.
Smith argues that the circumstances of his case, in which the government allegedly chose religious discourse for the application, run counter to the Black-smith decision. She believes either Black-smith or the decision of the 10th Circuit can stand, but not both.
The Colorado attorney general’s office defended CADA in the litigation, saying the law simply prohibits companies from denying services to certain clients on the basis of a protected trait – their sexual orientation.
The case is 303 Creative v. Elenis et al.