According to the original complaint filed by ADF, Smith argued that CADA violated her rights by declaring it illegal for her to decline to design websites that celebrate same-sex marriages.
“Solely because of Colorado law, Lorie and 303 Creative are refraining from expressing their views of God’s design for marriage [and] from offering their services to design, create, and publish wedding websites expressing their desired message celebrating and promoting marriage as an institution between one man and one woman,” Smith’s complaint explains.
Represented by ADF, Smith challenged the law before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in July 2021. Though the court of appeals ruled against her, Chief Judge Timothy Tymkovich dissented.
Tymkovich called the majority’s holding “unprecedented” and said that “[t]he Constitution protects Ms. Smith from the government telling her what to say.”
Smith then appealed to the Supreme Court, which granted her petition for review in February.
ADF will argue Smith’s case before the Supreme Court this term on the grounds that the Colorado law violates her freedom of speech.
CADA states that it is discriminatory and illegal for businesses to “publish, circulate, issue, display, post, or mail any written, electronic, or printed communication, notice, or advertisement” that communicates that a person’s patronage is “unwelcome, objectionable, unacceptable, or undesirable” on the basis of sexual orientation or marital status.
“Our argument is that free speech is for everyone,” Sharp told CNA. “No one — no artists, no American — should ever be forced by the government to say something they don’t believe in.”
“In Lorie’s case, the state of Colorado is misusing its law to force her to speak messages that she disagrees with as it relates to marriage. Lorie has long served everyone, people from all backgrounds and walks of life. But she doesn’t create all messages,” Sharp said.
“What she is seeking is the freedom to be able to create custom graphic design websites that celebrate weddings consistent with her view of marriage,” he added.
Parallels to cake case could help Jack Phillips
(Story continues below)
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Smith’s case closely resembles that of the widely-known Masterpiece Cakeshop case in which Colorado baker Jack Phillips was sued by a same-sex couple for declining to bake a cake celebrating their union.
After the couple sued Phillips for discrimination, ADF represented him in state court. The battle ultimately went to the Supreme Court, which voted in favor of Phillips in a 7-2 decision.
However, Sharp says the ruling did not address the issue at the heart of the case.
Sharp explained that several Coloradan commissioners and government officials compared Phillips’ religious beliefs about marriage “to being no different than those that justified the Holocaust,” prompting the Supreme Court’s rationale.
“When the Supreme Court ruled for Masterpiece Cakeshop and Jack Phillips, it focused on the hostility that the state of Colorado showed towards Phillips’ beliefs about marriage, specifically during the hearings,” he said.
In the court’s opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that “the Commission’s treatment of Phillips’ case … showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection.”