The United States Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, is now starting to consider a case that has massive implications for religious freedom here in America. Religious freedom, guaranteed by the First Amendment, has been under heavy fire in recent years, especially when it comes to various issues surrounding the LGBTQ community. A nation that doesn’t allow for folks to express their religious beliefs freely without the interference of the federal government is no longer free.
According to a report published by the Daily Wire, “On Monday, the court will begin considering 303 Creative v. Elenis, which revolves around Colorado designer Lorie Smith, a committed Christian who designs websites and is challenging the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act by asserting that it violates her First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion. Smith is fighting for the right to create messages consistent with her religious beliefs and publish those beliefs on her website.”
🚨 FREE SPEECH before #SCOTUS in 2 DAYS 🚨 Colorado has tried to compel graphic artist Lorie Smith's speech, forcing her to promote messages she doesn't believe. This is a clear violation of the #FirstAmendment.
— Alliance Defending Freedom (@ADFLegal) December 3, 2022
Lorie Smith is an artist. Art is speech.
The #FirstAmendment forbids government from censoring or coercing speech.
— Kristen Waggoner (@KWaggonerADF) December 4, 2022
‘”The decision to take up Smith’s case, combined with the court’s recent rulings expanding religious liberties, suggests that Smith may be on the verge of securing the broader victory that Phillips sought four years ago,’ Amy Howe of ScotusBlog stated, making a reference to the famous 2018 Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case where the Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s ruling against Christian baker, Jack Phillips, had been handed down without utilizing religious neutrality, but the court did not deal with the larger issues of anti-discrimination laws, free exercise of religion, and freedom of speech,” the report continued.
Before Smith’s case was ultimately appealed to the Supreme Court, which is looking only at the freedom of speech question, not the issue of free exercise of religion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled in favor of Colorado, utilizing what the plaintiff’s brief referred to as a “novel, artists-are-monopolists theory.”
The 10th District’s Chief Judge, Timothy Tymkovich, replied in a scorching dissent, “The majority concludes not only that Colorado has a compelling interest in forcing Ms. Smith to speak a government-approved message against her religious beliefs, but also that its public-accommodation law is the least restrictive means of accomplishing this goal. No case has ever gone so far. … It seems we have moved from ‘live and let live’ to ‘you can’t say that.’”
“The Constitution is a shield against CADA’s discriminatory treatment of Ms. Smith’s sincerely held religious beliefs,” Tymkovich railed on. “The Supreme Court’s repeated, emphatic disapprobation of compelled expressive speech leaves little room for other conclusions. So it is all the more troubling when, in a case where the parties have stipulated that Ms. Smith’s work is expressive speech — ‘[the] custom wedding websites will be expressive in nature’ — the majority decides that its compulsion is constitutional.”
“Ms. Smith would like to post on her website an honest, straightforward message about why she will only make wedding websites for weddings involving one man and one woman,” he noted. “Endorsing same-sex marriage is a message Ms. Smith will not create for any client. But CADA prevents her from informing clients of this.”
“The majority tells us not to worry because Colorado has good reasons to violate Ms. Smith’s conscience for the greater good. After all, she is only one person out of many. But this is misguided,” he stated.
He then pointed out the absurdity of the state’s position, going on to explain, “Rather than embracing the idea that creative, expressive works are even worthier of First Amendment protection by virtue of their originality and intrinsic worth, the majority comes to the opposite conclusion. It holds that ‘unique goods and services are where public accommodation laws are most necessary to ensuring equal access.’ It premises this argument on the idea (novel to the First Amendment) of a “monopoly of one,” characterizing the “product at issue [as] not merely ‘custom-made wedding websites,’ but rather ‘custom-made wedding websites of the same quality and nature as those made by [Ms. Smith].’”
“The majority then concludes that ‘monopolies present unique anti-discrimination concerns,’ justifying regulation of a market in which ‘only [Ms. Smith] exist[s],’” Tymkovich fumed, going on to add, “But this reductive reasoning leads to absurd results. By describing custom artists as creating a monopoly of one, the 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. This is, in a word, unprecedented.”
One of the most critical components of the Constitution is the First Amendment which includes both free speech and the free exercise of religion. No one in this country should be forced to compromise their cherished beliefs in order to cater to a group of people. This is a forced violation of a person’s conscience, which is not right.
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