Lawyers representing a Colorado website designer are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a split decision by a lower court that allows the state of Colorado to force the Christian to “speak messages that violate her beliefs.”
Officials with the Alliance Defending Freedom are representing Lorie Smith and her 303 Creative firm because of the state’s attacks that require her to “design and publish websites promoting messages that violate her religious beliefs” and even ban her from explaining her objections.
“The government shouldn’t weaponize the law to force a web designer to speak messages that violate her beliefs. This case involves quintessential free speech and artistic freedom, which the 10th Circuit dangerously cast aside,” said Kristen Waggoner, an ADF lawyer.
“Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips has been harassed for years, and now Lorie Smith is being told that she must speak views she opposes and can’t post about her beliefs on her own business website. The 10th Circuit’s reasoning turns free-speech protections on their head by saying that the more ‘unique’ speech is, the more the government can compel it. That kind of dangerous, unconstitutional reasoning is why we have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take Lorie’s case.”
Colorado, in the last 10 or 15 years or so, has turned into a haven for leftist extremism. Its extreme antagonism to issues of faith was exemplified in the Phillips case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court scolded Colorado for its “hostility” to Christianity.
Key to that case was evidence that while the state demanded punishment for Phillips, who declined to violate his faith by promoting in his baked goods artistry a message of homosexuality that violated his faith, the state took the opposite stance when a Christian message was involved.
The state insisted on punishing – and even indoctrinating – Phillips and his employees, but when evidence in that case revealed that homosexual and LGBT-supporting bakers refused to create cakes with Christian messages, the state defended and protected them.
The issue is the regulation of speech, and the U.S. Supreme Court already has ruled that pro-life centers in California cannot be forced to promote a message that includes a pro-abortion slant.
It was the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, located in the leftist city of Denver, that ruled against the Christian website, demanding that the state’s “Anti-Discrimination Act” can force the creator to create websites even when their message violates her faith.
According to the ADF, “In a lengthy dissent, 10th Circuit Chief Judge Timothy Tymkovich disagreed: ‘[T]he majority uses the very quality that gives the art value—its expressive and singular nature—to cheapen it. In essence, the majority holds that the more unique a product, the more aggressively the government may regulate access to it—and thus the less First Amendment protection it has.'”
He pointed out that state’s actions, and the 10th Circuit’s ruling, “subvert our core understandings of the First Amendment.”
The petition to the court notes the decision “empowers the government to force everyone to speak government-approved messages and ‘subverts our core understandings of the First Amendment.'”
“The decision also cements a three-way split over conflicts between free speech and laws like CADA, pitting the Tenth Circuit and several state courts of last resort against the Eighth and Eleventh Circuits and the Arizona Supreme Court. At the same time, the opinion contradicts this court’s free-speech precedents, which have repeatedly declared as anathemas to the First Amendment all government attempts to compel speech, to regulate speech based on content, and to stamp out disfavored speech.”
In both Minnesota and Arizona, courts have ruled exactly the opposite in similar cases.
The charges are that the state law violates the First Amendment’s Free Speech and Free Exercise clauses.
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