This week's 2-1 ruling in 303 Creative v. Elenis came from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and upheld a lower court decision against Lorie Smith, owner of 303 Creative. Smith saw what the state of Colorado did against cake artist Jack Phillips and wanted clarity on how Colorado's Anti-Discrimination Act applied to her company.
"The 10th Circuit got it wrong," says attorney Jake Warner of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the law firm representing Smith. "It said the government has the power to force creative professionals to express messages that go against their beliefs. That decision is wrong, and it conflicts with other courts' decisions around the country, including a decision by the Eighth Circuit that upheld the freedom of Christian filmmakers to create wedding films consistently with their faith."
ADF is now going to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to look at the case.
"The U.S. Supreme Court needs to weigh in on the critical question of this case, and that is does the government have the power to force creative professionals to express messages that go against their deeply-held beliefs," says Warner. "We believe the First Amendment says that answer is no. This principle is one that protects everyone, no matter whether you are a Christian website creator or someone who maybe identifies as LGBT who wishes to create website content consistent with their beliefs."
The law at issue also gags Smith from even explaining on her company's website what websites she can create that are consistent with her religious beliefs. That provision of the law prohibits designers and artists from expressing in the marketplace any religious views about marriage that could indicate someone is "unwelcome, objectionable, unacceptable, or undesirable" because of their sexual orientation or that suggests the designer will not create particular customer works because of those beliefs.
On her business website, Smith describes herself as "a Christian who believes that God gave me the creative gifts that are expressed through this business" and says, "I have always strived to honor Him in how I operate it."