Feb 22, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court takes up new case over refusal to serve same-sex weddings

Picture of the Supreme Court
Photo: STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a free-speech case of a Colorado-based web designer who says she should not be forced to create websites for same-sex weddings under state law.

State of play: Attorneys for Lorie Smith are asking the court to review a decision from the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled in favor of a Colorado law that says she must "work with all people regardless of ... sexual orientation," arguing that it violates her First Amendment rights.

  • Smith says this is inconsistent with her faith, and her attorneys argue the appeals court decision forces "Lorie to convey messages that violate her religious beliefs and restrict[s] her from explaining her faith."

The court will specifically look to answer the question of whether applying a law "to compel an artist to speak or stay silent violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment."

Catch up fast: The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals had denied Smith's attempt to overturn a lower court's decision to throw out her case, arguing that Colorado must protect the interests of marginalized groups under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA).

Between the lines: CADA is the same law that was at issue in the case of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a custom cake for a same-sex couple's wedding.

  • The court ruled in 2018 said that state officials did not properly consider the baker's religious beliefs when he refused to make a cake for two men who were getting married.
  • However, at the time, the court did not provide a general ruling on whether a business can invoke religious freedoms to deny services to members of the LGBTQ community.

What we're watching: The Supreme Court case is expected to be argued in the fall.

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