FILE - Lorie Smith, a Christian graphic artist and website designer in Colorado, prepares to speak to supporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, after her case was heard by the Court. In a defeat for gay rights, the Supreme Court's conservative majority ruled Friday, June 30, 2023, Smith who wants to design wedding websites can refuse to work with same-sex couples (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
Tolerance, not coercion is the answer, U.S. Supreme Court says, backing 1st Amendment protections for Christian business owner.
A Christian Colorado web designer has won her case at the U.S. Supreme Court and will not be forced to design wedding websites for same-sex couples.
According to Court documents, Lorie Smith wanted to expand her graphic design business, 303 Creative LLC, to include services for couples seeking wedding websites. However, she did not want to be compelled to perform the service for marriages she does not endorse, namely same-sex marriages.
Smith feared Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act would compel her to act beyond her beliefs. She filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to prevent the State from forcing her to create websites celebrating marriages that defy her belief that marriage should be reserved to unions between one man and one woman.
In a 6-3 decision, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that the 1st Amendment prohibits Colorado from compelling Smith to create websites “speaking messages with which the designer disagrees.”
“The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands. Because Colorado seeks to deny that promise, the judgment is reversed,” Gorsuch wrote.
Gorsuch went on to write:
Like many States, Colorado has a law forbidding businesses from engaging in discrimination when they sell goods and services to the public. Laws along these lines have done much to secure the civil rights of all Americans. But in this particular case Colorado does not just seek to ensure the sale of goods or services on equal terms. It seeks to use its law to compel an individual to create speech she does not believe…
…Of course, abiding the Constitution’s commitment to the freedom of speech means all of us will encounter ideas we consider “unattractive,”…“misguided, or even hurtful,”… But tolerance, not coercion, is our Nation’s answer.
Joining Gorsuch in the majority were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, and Samuel Alito.
Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Jackson dissented.
“Our Constitution contains no right to refuse service to a disfavored group,” Sotomayor wrote in dissent, calling it “profoundly wrong.” See went on to write:
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. Specifically, the Court holds that the First Amendment exempts a website design company from a state law that prohibits the company from denying wedding websites to same-sex couples if the company chooses to sell those websites to the public.
You can read the full opinion in this case – 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis – here.