On the final day of its session, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Lorie Smith, a Christian Colorado website designer who refused to create a website for a gay wedding. The court’s 6-3 ruling said Smith could not be compelled to create speech that violates her beliefs.
Smith, an artist and owner of the design studio 303 Creative, specializes in graphic and website design. Her passion lies in visually conveying messages and she established her business to align her work with causes close to her heart, such as supporting children with disabilities, promoting overseas missions, aiding animal shelters, and honoring veterans.
Smith’s work includes websites celebrating traditional marriage between a man and a woman. That defied Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. The law requires her to create designs that contradict her deeply held Christian beliefs about marriage. Smith decided to challenge the law. Alliance Defending Freedom took up her cause to fight for her free speech rights.
The majority of justices, in the 6-3 decision, agreed that the government cannot compel Smith to create speech that she fundamentally disagrees with.
“Colorado seeks to force an individual to speak in ways that align with its views but defy her conscience about a matter of major significance,” the opinion, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, says.
Gorsuch wrote that if the court had ruled for the State of Colorado, it would put Smith in an untenable position: “If she wishes to speak, she must either speak as the State demands or face sanctions for expressing her own beliefs, sanctions that may include compulsory participation in remedial training, filing periodic compliance reports . . . and paying monetary fines. As surely as Ms. Smith seeks to engage in protected First Amendment speech, Colorado seeks to compel speech Ms. Smith does not wish to provide.”
The three who dissented were Justices Elena Fagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Katanji Brown Jackson, all deeply leftist.
Sotomayor wrote, “Today, the Court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class.”
Despite the existence of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, the court ruled that it cannot be used to force individuals to express messages that go against their sincerely held beliefs.
Mainstream news outlets and advocates for LGBTQ+ rights argue that the court’s decision undermines legal protections for the LGBTQ+ community.
Supporters of the court’s decision contend that it upholds the principles of free speech and religious freedom. They argue that artists like Smith should have the autonomy to decide which projects they take on, based on the messages they are being asked to express, rather than being compelled by the government to create art that conflicts with their beliefs.
The Alaska Family Council in December joined family policy councils across the country to file a legal brief supporting Smith.
“Whether it’s Colorado, Washington, D.C., or Alaska, we’re proud to stand in defense of free speech and religious liberty,” said AFC President Jim Minnery.
In 2018, Colorado cake baker and designer won his case at the Supreme Court after he was sued for refusing to bake and decorate a wedding cake for a gay couple. He is now fighting a lawsuit because he won’t bake a cake celebrating a “sexual transition.” That case is working its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.