Colorado, just a few years, lost a huge religious rights case at the Supreme Court.
It had attacked Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop for declining to violate his religious faith by promoting same-sex weddings.
He won, but it was on a technicality, as the court found the state had exhibited “hostility” to his Christianity, in violation the Constitution’s requirement it be neutral. In fact, it tried to order him, and his workers, into a state-mandated indoctrination program for such beliefs.
Now the state is being accused, essentially, of doing the same thing against Lorie Smith and her 303 Creative company, a dispute that soon is to be heard by the justices.
“Colorado may not use its public-accommodations law to compel speakers to convey government-approved messages,” her lawyers have explained in their latest filing in the fight.
They have written that the state already has admitted she serves clients “regardless of classifications” like “sexual orientation.”
And her work is “expressive” and communicates a “particular message.”
She runs a graphic and website design operation and works to support children with disabilities, the beauty of marriage, overseas missions, animal shelters, and veterans.
But the state ordered her to promote same-sex weddings if she promotes any.
The reply brief is from Alliance Defending Freedom. General Counsel Kristen Waggoner said, “Free speech is for everyone. The government can’t force anyone to say something they don’t believe. Lorie’s decision to design a project always turns on what the message is, not who requests it. When she creates a graphic design or website, she communicates a message consistent with her beliefs. And the First Amendment protects every American’s right to express ideas without fear of government punishment.”
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, being in the leftist state, had ruled 2-1 for the state to be allowed to order her to say what it wants her to say.
The dissent in that ruling had issued a warning: that the result was “staggering” and “unprecedented” because the “Constitution protects Ms. Smith from the government telling her what to say….”
“Colorado asks this Court to do something it has never done—authorize the government to compel speakers to speak certain messages while silencing others,” the ADF reply brief on behalf of Smith states. “The Court should decline that invitation, as it would be a step back for the First Amendment and our nation. The First Amendment secures our sacred freedoms of thought and mind, and it provides an essential check on government overreach.”
WND reported only weeks ago that a long list of individuals, groups and organizations have supported Smith’s case.
She is fighting Colorado’s so-called “nondiscrimination” requirement that demands she speak in favor of same-sex marriage, an action that violates her faith, and forbids her to explain online that her beliefs do not allow such promotions.
The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors Inc. explained that Colorado “requires citizens of Colorado to enter into contracts against their will, and to produce goods or services under penalty of prosecution. To force one to create a product or provide a service is, by definition, ‘involuntary servitude.'”
A coalition of dozens of states told the high court that the Colorado requirement attacks “a message” that Smith conveys, or declines to convey. In that, they argue, Colorado “violates the constitutional rights of its citizens, because the First Amendment prohibits states from forcing individuals, including people who create custom speech for a living, to speak in favor of same-sex marriage.”
A statement from a long list of members of Congress points out, “Amici may hold a variety of views about same-sex marriage. But they all agree that the government has no authority to compel individuals to express opinions that violate their firmly held religious beliefs.”