In the court case of 303 Creative LLC v. Elanis, the Supreme Court ruled this Friday, June 30, that the First Amendment right extends to allowing Colorado website designers to refuse service if they don’t believe in the message of their client. This decision bars Colorado website designers from being forced to create content that the designer disagrees with.
The plaintiff in the case, business owner Laurie Smith, is a Colorado website designer who creates custom websites for clients. Wanting to expand her business to include wedding websites, Smith was concerned that the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) would force her to create wedding websites for same-sex couples. She claims that this service would be in violation of her First Amendment right and would impede her religious beliefs.
Before she could be approached by a same-sex couple requesting her services, Smith preemptively sued the State of Colorado. Smith’s belief is that marriage is solely between a man and a woman, and being forced per CADA to accommodate same-sex couples would impinge upon her freedom of speech.
Response to Constitutional Rights Court Case
Colorado Attorney General Philip Weister proposed that CADA should not dictate what Smith is allowed to say through her website designs. However, the law does dictate that a business must serve any person, regardless of gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation.
In response, Laurie Smith stated that she creates products for lesbian and gay clients but overall believes that marriage is only between a man and a woman. On Friday, the court agreed with this sentiment.
Court Ruling on Rights
In a blow against gay rights and anti-discrimination laws, the Supreme Court expressed through their ruling that Smith’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech is protected. Smith is also protected against compelled speech, which is government-enforced support of certain beliefs or expressions.
Following this ruling, if Smith faces punishment or sanctions for her speech, the State of Colorado would be in abridgment of her First Amendment right.
This case marks the first instance in history where the U.S. The Supreme Court has granted a business the freedom to refuse service to members of a protected class based on a constitutional right. This decision also follows the Supreme Court’s strike against affirmative action programs, which will undoubtedly roll back decades of progress in bridging the educational gap for people of color desiring to enter post-secondary institutions of learning.