Can gov't compel, silence speech?

Can gov't compel, silence speech?

Can gov't compel, silence speech?

Attorneys for a web designer in Colorado are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her case.

Kristen Waggoner of Alliance Defending Freedom, the law firm representing Lorie Smith of 303 Creative, says the case involves "quintessential free speech and artistic freedoms that the 10th Circuit astonishingly and dangerously cast aside."

Waggoner, Kristen (ADF) Waggoner

Smith is in one of those situations where, like Jack Phillips, Barronelle Stutzman, and other ADF clients, her local or state government is saying that if she provides a service for some couples, then she has to do it for all couples. Therein lies the problem for Smith, who believes that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, as she creates, among other things, wedding websites.

"The 10th Circuit found that Lorie's website designs were speech protected under the First Amendment and that Lorie would, in fact, serve everyone regardless of who they are," Waggoner reports. "But despite all of that, the 10th Circuit said that the government could force Lorie to speak views she opposes and to prevent her from posting about her beliefs on her own website."

"I have clients ranging from individuals to small business owners to non-profit agencies," says Lorie Smith. "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."

If this opinion is not overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, then officials in Colorado and at least six other states can use the same logic to compel the speech of any and every artist.

"That kind of power is more like the government power described by George Orwell than what's actually in the Constitution," says Waggoner.

"Today it's me, but tomorrow, it could be you," adds Smith. "My case is about the freedom of all Americans to live and work consistently with their beliefs. Free speech is for everyone, not just those who agree with the government."