The case is 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis. Critics of the decision – some within President Joe Biden's administration – say the Supreme Court has issued a verdict in search of a case, that Lori Smith's story has wound its way to the highest court in the land without real merit after one spokesman for the alleged same-sex couple has denied involvement.
Smith (right) designs and builds websites in Littleton, Colorado – the same state that has made multiple attempts to get a court to rule against another small businessman, a Christian baker. She says two males approached her through email inquiring about a website to celebrate their upcoming marriage.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who is gay, offered his assessment after the ruling was announced:
"I think it's very revealing that there's no evidence that this web designer was ever even approached by anyone asking for a website for a same-sex wedding. As a matter of fact, it appears this web designer only went into the wedding business for the purpose of provoking a case like this."
Jonathan Scruggs, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom and Smith's attorney, says that's a false narrative.
Scruggs explained on Washington Watch Wednesday that his client received a common generic email form used by two men who said their names were Mike and Stewart and who wanted Smith to produce a wedding website to celebrate their same-sex nuptials.
The left-leaning news website The New Republic reached out to Stewart to confirm Smith's description of the events. The New Republic reported that Stewart's contact information was available in court documents though his last name is not.
He had a different story. Stewart told The New Republic he never sent the email form, was married to a woman at the time the form was sent, and has a child. "I'm not really sure where that came from, but somebody's using false information in a Supreme Court filing document," he said.
However, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) that would compel Smith to violate her faith beliefs also kept her from verifying Stewart's story on the front end.
"Lori couldn't reach out to this person and verify that what they're saying is true because if she did so, she would violate the law," Scruggs told show host Joseph Backholm.
Smith saw how the Christian baker was harassed
It's true that the lawsuit was preemptive in nature, but the state of Colorado in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission was very clear in what it thinks of protection for religious convictions.
The Supreme Court in 2018 ruled in favor of the Christian baker Jack Phillips after he refused to bake a same-sex wedding cake. After the ruling, the baker was back in business, but harassment against him did not end. He has been back in court twice since then and has also filed a federal lawsuit himself against the state of Colorado.
"Colorado has been applying this law to other people like Lori Smith, including Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cake Shop. So, there's really no debate here about what the law means and what Colorado wanted to do, and whether Lori has a First Amendment right to [deny service]," Scruggs said.
Buttigieg argues that Smith's case and others like it are "designed to chip away at rights" of LGBTQ people – an accusation that is "absolutely false," Scruggs said.
"The case and the Supreme Court decision were clear that this protects the rights of all Americans to speak consistent with their beliefs," the attorney continued. "The ruling did not in any way imperil these laws and does not permit these laws from being applied to protect people's access to goods and services. It just means the government can't force someone to say something that violates their core convictions."
Supreme Court's decision is protection for all
The narrative against Smith omits the fact that the Court's decision in favor of free speech extends to all Americans, not just Christian web designers.
"It protects not only Lori Smith, our client, it protects the LGBT web designer. It protects the atheist, it protects the Muslim, it protects the Jewish artists. It protects all of us, and that is great news," Scruggs said.
Scruggs said opponents are intentionally muddying the waters – and he encouraged people to study the Court's decision.
"This misinformation campaign that's going on is really an effort to blur what the Court actually said. Just go and read the court's opinion and see for yourself," he urged. "What the court said clearly, again and again, is that free speech is our fundamental right. It's an inalienable right of all Americans, and that's what the Supreme Court decision stood up and protected."
Scruggs said the Left is ignoring facts laid out in the majority opinion, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch – facts with which the state of Colorado readily agreed.
"Colorado agreed that Lori does not discriminate, that she serves all people – and yet [the state] was still going after her and trying to compel her speech," Scruggs offered.
"That should be shocking to all of us, that Colorado's legal theory would enable the government not just to compel Lori but to compel Americans to say almost anything they disagree with – and that goes for the Muslim, the Jewish artist, and the LGBTQ web designer."