The Denver-area Christian website designer seeking to block Colorado from compelling her to design websites with same-sex messages violating her beliefs got some powerful support Friday as supporters — including 45 lawmakers such as Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas — asked the Supreme Court to review her case.
The attorneys general of sixteen states also asked the high court to take up the matter. Led by Arizona and Nebraska, the roster includes Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
Lorie Smith, who owns 303creative.com, went to the high court at the end of September following the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals’ rejection of her challenge to having certain provisions of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, also known as CADA, applied to her business.
Ms. Smith creates websites for individuals and businesses, and hopes to specialize in websites for engaged male-and-female couples, in keeping with her religious beliefs about marriage. WeddingWire.com, in a 2020 survey, reported that 79% of such couples created a website for family and friends to track the progress of their upcoming nuptials.
“I have served and continue to serve all people, including those who identify as LGBT, I simply object to being forced to pour my heart, my imagination, and talents into messages that violate my conscience,” Ms. Smith said at a news conference announcing her appeal.
She added, “Artists must be free to create and speak messages consistent with their convictions without the threat of unjust punishment.”
Her appeal to the Supreme Court came after the majority of a three-judge Tenth Circuit panel said allowing Ms. Smith to refuse same-sex couples seeking a wedding website would assign such clients “to an inferior market” if they cannot avail themselves of Ms. Smith’s “unique services.”
The 45 members of Congress who asked the Supreme Court to intervene rejected that argument from the court of appeals.
“The Tenth Circuit’s reasoning makes clear the true purpose of CADA’s speech compulsions—to compel dissenters to mouth views with which they disagree and to silence opposing viewpoints,” they wrote. “After all, as the Tenth Circuit recognized, same-sex couples have no shortage of alternative options for wedding website designs.”
The state attorneys general argue that Colorado’s “limitation on Smith’s business is based on a message she cannot convey and not on the status of a customer she refuses to serve.”
By refusing to allow Ms. Smith to uphold her beliefs, their brief states, “Colorado violates the constitutional rights of its citizens, because the First Amendment prohibits States from forcing individuals, including people who create custom speech for a living, to speak in favor of same-sex marriage.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom, the public-interest law firm representing Ms. Smith, welcomed the wide range of support.
“As the briefs filed in support of free speech and artistic freedom in this case agree, the government shouldn’t be permitted to weaponize the law to force a web designer to speak messages that violate her beliefs. The Tenth Circuit recklessly threw these First Amendment guarantees aside, and that calls for the Supreme Court’s attention,” said ADF general counsel Kristen Waggoner, who argued before the Tenth Circuit on Ms. Smith’s behalf, in a statement.
The Washington Times requested comment from Colorado solicitor General Eric Olson, who did not immediately respond.