Another 1st Amendment case waiting in the wings

Another 1st Amendment case waiting in the wings

Another 1st Amendment case waiting in the wings

The Supreme Court's term is coming to a close, but it won't be long before another First Amendment case is back before the justices.


Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) represents Lorie Smith, owner of 303 Creative, a website studio in Colorado. ADF attorney Jake Warner explains Smith's legal battle.

"A few years ago, she decided she wanted to enter the wedding website industry. But when she looked around, she saw how her state was treating artists like Jack Phillips," the attorney tells AFH. "She learned that if she entered the wedding industry and created wedding websites celebrating God's design for marriage, her state would force her to create other websites celebrating different views of marriage that violate her beliefs."

Jack Phillips is the Lakewood, Colorado wedding cake designer who turned down a wedding cake order from two men in 2012. The men filed a complaint against the business owner with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which sided with them and thus began a lengthy court fight.

Phillips lost in court after court until finally, at the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices ruled in 2018 the state commission had treated Phillips unfairly because of blatant anti-religious views among its members. That decision was 7-2, a lopsided victory for Phillips.

Warner, Jake (ADF attorney) Warner

Warner explains that instead of getting prosecuted like Phillips and going through court for years, Lorie Smith chose to find out her rights "on the front end." So, she sued Colorado – and lower-level courts said the state could indeed force her to convey messages that go against her deepest beliefs about marriage.

"We appealed these cases all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided to hear Lorie's case just a few months ago," says Warner. "We expect oral arguments to be held later this fall and probably a decision sometime next summer, or about a year from now."

In the Supreme Court's 7-2 decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Justice Clarence Thomas complained in his opinion that his fellow justices had made a narrow ruling that avoided the First Amendment issue central to Smith's case, 303 Creative v. Elenis.