Supreme Court to hear case of web designer who opposes same-sex marriage

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear an appeal from a Colorado web designer who opposes the provision of same-sex ma...


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear an appeal from a Colorado web designer who opposes the provision of same-sex marriage services, sending justices back to a battleground in the culture wars between the religious freedom claims to laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The court last reviewed the clash in 2018, when a similar dispute between a Colorado baker and a gay couple did not reach a final decision.

The specific question the judges have agreed to decide in the new case is “whether applying a public accommodation law to compel an artist to speak or remain silent violates the freedom of speech clause of the First Amendment”.

The court will hear the case, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, No. 21-476, in his next term, which begins in October. It’s Lorie Smith, owner of a web design company that says it serves gay clients but intends to limit its marriage-related services to celebrations of heterosexual unions. Ms Smith said she intended to post a message saying company policy was a product of her religious beliefs.

A Colorado law prohibits discrimination against gay people by businesses open to the public as well as statements announcing such discrimination. Ms Smith, who did not start the wedding business or publish the proposed statement for fear of breaking the law, filed a lawsuit challenging it, claiming it violated her rights to free speech and free exercise of religion.

A three-judge divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Denver, applied the most exacting form of judicial review to the law but kept it.

“Colorado has a compelling interest in protecting both the dignity interests of members of marginalized groups and their material interests in accessing the commercial marketplace,” Judge Mary Beck Briscoe wrote for the majority, adding that the law is narrowly tailored to meet that interest.

“To be sure,” Judge Briscoe wrote, “LGBT consumers may be able to obtain wedding web design services from other companies; yet LGBT consumers will never be able to obtain marriage-related services of the same quality and nature as those offered by callers. »

Judge Briscoe added that “Colorado may prohibit speech that promotes unlawful activity, including unlawful discrimination.”

At variance, Chief Justice Timothy M. Tymkovichquoting George Orwell, said “the majority take the remarkable – and novel – position that the government can force Mrs Smith to produce messages which violate her conscience”.

“It seems like we’ve gone from ‘live and let live’,” he wrote, “to ‘you can’t say that’.”

Lower courts have generally sided with gay and lesbian couples who have been denied service, ruling they are entitled to equal treatment, at least in some parts of the country where laws prohibit discrimination based on gender. sexual orientation.

Business owners challenging these laws have argued that the government should not force them to choose between the demands of their religion and their livelihoods, citing constitutional protections for free speech and religious freedom.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Supreme Court to hear case of web designer who opposes same-sex marriage
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