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SCOTUS to Hear Case of Christian Web Designer Forced to Violate Her Beliefs About Marriage

10-21-2022
Lorie Smith is being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (Image courtesy ADF)
Lorie Smith is being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (Image courtesy ADF)

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments in the case of a Colorado website designer who says the state violated her First Amendment right to free speech by requiring her to create designs that violate her beliefs about marriage.

On Dec. 5, Lorie Smith, a Denver-based graphic artist, will have her case heard before the high court in hopes that it will rule that she doesn't have to express unbiblical messages that violate her First Amendment rights.

"I have been hoping and praying for this day for many, many years, Smith said in a video. "I'm very thankful that the United States Supreme Court has decided to hear my case because my case is important to all Americans, including artists, like myself. It's important that our first amendment rights for free speech are protected."

As CBN News reported, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last July that Smith had to design wedding websites for same-sex couples. Smith wanted to move into the wedding space but quickly found out that Colorado law required her to create sites that did not align with her belief that marriage is the union of one man and woman.

She was taken to court where the judges ruled that she not only had to create the websites but also prohibited her from explaining on her social media page which websites she could create based on her religious beliefs.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing Smith, argues the law forces her to violate her Christian beliefs.

"The government doesn't have the power to silence or compel creative expression under the threat of punishment. It's shocking that the 10th Circuit would permit Colorado to punish artists whose speech isn't in line with state-approved ideology," said ADF General Counsel Kristen Waggoner, Smith's attorney. 

"Colorado has weaponized its law to silence speech it disagrees with, to compel speech it approves of, and to punish anyone who dares to dissent. Colorado's law—and others like it—are a clear and present danger to every American's constitutionally protected freedoms and the very existence of a diverse and free nation," she continued.

Ed Whelan, a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, wrote in the National Review that the lower court's decision was a "hostile" ruling for free speech.

"It is a 'fundamental rule of protection under the First Amendment, that a speaker has the autonomy to choose the content of his own message,'" Whelan wrote. 

Smith owns her own business known as 303 Creative and maintains that while she accepts all clients she cannot create all messages. 

"When my clients come to 303 Creative, what they can expect is someone who cares and has a passion for their business as well," Smith said. "Each and every one of my [designs] is a reflection of me."

 

Now her case heads to the Supreme Court. 

"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 Court should decline that invitation, as it would be a step back for the First Amendment and our nation," reads a brief from ADF.

"The First Amendment secures our sacred freedoms of thought and mind, and it provides an essential check on government overreach," it continues. [It] is not forward thinking to force individuals to 'be an instrument for fostering public adherence to an ideological point of view [they]  find unacceptable.'"

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