The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled 2-1 Monday that the state of Colorado can force a web designer, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, to design and publish websites promoting messages that violate her religious beliefs. The law at issue also gags the designer, Lorie Smith of 303 Creative, from even explaining on her company’s website what websites she can create consistent with her religious beliefs.
“The government should never force creative professionals to promote a message or cause with which they disagree. That is quintessential free speech and artistic freedom,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch. “Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips has been harassed for years; Washington floral artist Barronelle Stutzman stands to lose nearly everything she owns; and now Lorie Smith is being told that she must speak views she opposes and can’t post about her beliefs on her own business website. How many more creative professionals will have to suffer before they receive recognition of their constitutionally protected freedoms—the rights they have always had in this country? Lorie is happy to design websites for all people; she simply objects to being forced to pour her heart, imagination, and talents into messages that violate her conscience. For that reason, we intend to appeal the 10th Circuit’s decision.”
The 10th Circuit issued an unprecedented decision in the case, 303 Creative v. Elenis, finding that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act “permissibly compels [Lorie Smith’s] speech” and concluding that “a faith that enriches society in one way might also damage society in [an]other….”