Lorie Smith, owner of 303 Creative, is a website designer who was worried that she would face legal challenges in Coloroda if she refused to create a website for a same-sex wedding. Rather than back down once sued, Smith decided to clarify her rights and took her case all the way to the Supreme Court and won a major victory for freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Her case was taken up by a pro-free speech group called the Alliance Defending Freedom. In a press release about her case and why it’s important, ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco said, “Artists shouldn’t be threatened with punishment for disagreeing with the government’s preferred views. The state must allow artists the freedom to make personal decisions about what art they can and can’t create.”
Additionally, ADF Legal Counsel Samuel Green said, “Every American, including artists, should be free to peacefully live and work according to their faith without fear of unjust punishment by the government. Just because an artist creates expression that communicates one viewpoint doesn’t mean Colorado can require her to express all viewpoints. It’s unlawful to force an artist to create against her will and intimidate her into silence just because the government disagrees with her beliefs.”
The ADF complaint argued that the Colorado law would compel Smith to either pay a heavy financial price for refusing to do something she felt was against her religious beliefs or work on promoting a message she thought was against her faith, saying, “If Lorie and 303 Creative were to convey their desired messages and decline to convey objectionable messages, they would face costly and onerous investigations, fines of up to $500 for each violation, and oppressive mandates—such as staff re-education training—that can themselves compel objectionable speech. Thus, solely because of Colorado law, Lorie and 303 Creative are refraining from expressing their views of God’s design for marriage on 303 Creative’s website and from offering their services to design, create, and publish wedding websites expressing their desired message celebrating and promoting marriage as an institution between one man and one woman. To restore their constitutional freedoms to speak their beliefs and not be compelled to speak messages contrary to those beliefs, and to ensure that other creative professionals in Colorado have the same freedoms, Lorie and 303 Creative ask this Court to enjoin Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-34-601(2)(a) and declare that it violates their rights
Thanks to ADF’s convincing arguments, Trump’s Supreme Court appointees, and her tenacity, Smith was victorious in the Supreme Court, leading to a major win for free speech and freedom of religion.
Appearing on Fox News Channel to discuss the victory and what it means, Smith told Fox News host Martha MacCallum, “I want to create websites that are consistent with my view on marriage and the state of Colorado said, ‘You must set aside your views.’ I decided to take a stand for freedom, to protect speech. I know that if I want free speech for myself, I must protect it for others and I’m grateful that the court has protected speech for all.”
Continuing, she added that the odyssey to this point was a long and winding road, a constant challenge, but that it was worth it because it was a major victory for freedom of speech and a major blow to a compelled speech law. As she put it:
“This has been a very difficult seven-year journey and even today receiving quite a bit of backlash. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about my case. This case is about speech. I want free speech for everyone. I have clients from all walks of life, including clients who identify as LGBT and I just want to create consistent with what I believe, but I want that for everyone. I want the LGBT web site designer, the Jewish calligrapher, the Democrat speechwriter, I want everyone to be able to work and design consistently with what they believe, because free speech is truly for everyone.”