SCOTUS appears to favor Christian web designer in a case that pits free speech against LGBTQ rights

 December 6, 2022

According to the New York Times, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are now considering whether or not a web designer can refuse to provide her services to a gay couple looking to use her services to celebrate their same-sex marriage.  

In other words, the question before the justices is whether the U.S. Constitution allows this type of discrimination.

This sort of scenario may sound familiar, and that's because there was a similar case - Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission - in 2018, where a baker refused to bake cakes for same-sex couples. There, the U.S. Supreme Court did side with the baker.

But, the reason that we are seeing this scenario before the court again is that the justice's ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop didn't really settle the issue.

303 Creative LLC v. Elenis

At the center of this case is a Colorado law that looks to protect same-sex couples from discrimination.

NPR reports:

. . . Colorado . . . like 29 other states, requires businesses that are open to the public to offer equal access to everyone, regardless of race, religion, and sexual orientation, and gender.

A Christian web designer name Lorie Smith is challenging the law on constitutional grounds, specifically on First Amendment grounds.

Forbes reports:

[Smith] is arguing Colorado’s anti-discrimination law violates the First Amendment, because it would force her to provide services for same-sex couples and compel her to endorse their marriage through her work.

Smith has already suffered defeat at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Oral arguments

Smith is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Monday, the justices heard oral arguments in the case, and it appears as though they may be leaning toward ruling for Smith.

NBC News reports:

Justices in the conservative majority seemed generally supportive of the notion that Smith should not be forced to express sentiments to which she disagrees, with Justice Clarence Thomas noting that policing speech was not how public accommodations laws like Colorado's were traditionally applied.

The court's liberal justices, however, were much more skeptical about Colorado's law violating Smith's First Amendment rights.

At the moment, there is no real telling which way the justices are going to rule on this one. The court's conservative contingent did seem to side with Smith, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll rule that way. The court does have either a 5 to 4 or 6 to 3 conservative majority depending on where one puts Chief Justice John Roberts - so, if the conservatives are in Smith's favor, the liberals won't be able to stop a ruling against Colorado.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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