Should designers be allowed to refuse to create wedding websites for same-sex couples based on religious objections?
That was the question the Supreme Court judge addressed in oral arguments on Monday. 303 Creative LLC vs. Elenisan incident in which a Colorado web designer said her state’s anti-discrimination laws forced her to compose a speech that went against her Christian beliefs.
In a more than two-hour debate about the line between artists and vendors expressing themselves or merely serving the general public, the judge asked Laurie Smith’s attorneys to sue her web site. I questioned whether the design service would endorse her potentially same-sex marriage.
Conversely, attorneys representing the state of Colorado and the federal government argued that allowing Smith’s claim to succeed would open up other avenues for Bender to discriminate against broad swaths of the public.
“What about people who don’t believe in interracial marriage? Or people who don’t believe disabled people should get married?” Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked Smith’s attorney Kristen Wagoner. “Where’s the line?”
The dispute focuses on Colorado’s public accommodations law that the court previously considered in 2018. The baker refused to make a custom wedding cake for gay couples. In that case, the judge largely punted the central conflict between religion and civil rights instead. make a narrow ruling The bakery was treated with hostility by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
In Monday’s case, Smith had not yet turned down a specific couple, but instead preemptively claimed that the law would prevent her from doing so.
Attorney Wagoner tried to frame the case as not one in which Smith refused to serve a particular class of individuals, but one in which the government forced her to speak in favor of something that opposed her. . Smith has had LGBTQ clients in the past, but she no longer creates websites for such couples’ weddings.
Similarly, Wagoner, If a heterosexual couple wants to let guests know that they met while married to another partner and found love while having an affair, Smith freely refuses to create a website for them. is needed.
“Coerced speech destroys the conscience of the speaker and it is an instrument of authoritarianism, which is why this court has never allowed it,” said the chief executive of the religious legal group Alliance Defending Freedom. Wagoner, executive director and president, said.