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High court to consider taking another 'Jack Phillips'-type case

High court to consider taking another 'Jack Phillips'-type case


High court to consider taking another 'Jack Phillips'-type case

A Colorado web designer and her legal team are hopeful the U.S. Supreme Court decides to hear her case as she fights to defend the constitutional right to express her religious beliefs in the products she creates.

Lorie Smith is a website designer in Colorado, where state law prohibits her from being able to express custom website messages that would be supportive of her religious view on marriage between a man and a woman.

Kristen Waggoner is an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the law firm representing Smith. Waggoner explains that Smith basically is facing the same type of penalties that cake artist Jack Phillips is facing in Colorado.

Waggoner, Kristen (ADF) Waggoner

"The issue in Lorie's case is whether artists and Americans have the right to be able to create custom art and expression that is consistent with their conviction," the attorney shares, "or whether the government can compel them to say things that they don't believe or silence them from saying things that they do believe."

The case has been getting extra attention in recent days, following a settlement agreement last week that ended a 2013 lawsuit brought by the ACLU against Washington state floral artist Barronelle Stutzman. ADF also handled that case.

"That settlement does not include a change of Barronelle's beliefs, it does not include a submission of her beliefs to the government or to the ACLU, and she has never once had to violate her conscience," Waggoner shares.

"But at 77 she is going to retire and give her business to her employees – and she's passing her legal torch on to Lorie Smith at 303 Creative."

Smith's case (303 Creative v. Elenis) could be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court soon. The high court will conference the case in early January and decide whether to hear arguments. Sixteen states, 45 members of Congress, and numerous legal scholars, economists, publishers, and media groups have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the web designer.