Dianne Hensley is a justice who, because of her religious convictions, felt that she could not participate in homosexual weddings. But attorney Justin Butterfield of First Liberty Institute says she wanted to make sure that everybody in her community was able to get a wedding.
"She was referring same-sex couples that came to her to others … and really helping them to be able to get married, but without doing it in a way that violates her religious convictions," he explains.
When the State Commission on Judicial Conduct (CJC) became aware of Hensley's practice and referral system, the commission launched an investigation and later sent a public warning to Hensley.
First Liberty then filed a lawsuit on behalf of Hensley to defend her actions.
Butterfield notes the U.S. Supreme Court's opinions in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, where the court ruled that the First Amendment prohibited Colorado from forcing a website designer to create expressive designs speaking messages with which the designer disagrees.
Even though that was a free speech case and not about religious liberty, the U.S. Supreme Court said that with the compelling interest analysis, which is a legal process that is used when the government is trying to do something that burdens someone's fundamental rights like free speech or their religious beliefs, they have to show that the government has a compelling interest.
In 303 Creative, the Supreme Court said that in a clash of absolutes, same-sex weddings do not trump free speech and other rights that are explicitly mentioned in the First Amendment of the Constitution.
So saying that the government does not have a compelling interest in doing that is going to be "very important" for Judge Hensley's case.
"We look forward to vindicating that right at the Texas Supreme Court," Butterfield relays.