Thomas Gallatin / February 24, 2022

SCOTUS Takes Another Crack at Religious Liberty

The justices have another opportunity to clearly defend Americans’ First Amendment rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided to take on another religious liberty case with almost identical issues to that of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. This time, it has to do with whether a Web designer can be forced to make a website in opposition to her religious beliefs.

Recall that in the Masterpiece case, cake maker Jack Phillips was sued (more than once) for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual couple on the grounds that his fundamental religious objection to same-sex marriage meant he couldn’t express himself through art to support such a thing. Colorado’s state division of the Rainbow Mafia, officially known as the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, went after Phillips for failing to adhere to its bogus “equity” principle. Phillips won a narrow victory in the Supreme Court on religious bigotry grounds. However, the Court effectively evaded the central First Amendment issue at the heart of the case.

As a result, Colorado has continued to target Phillips with its effort to coerce him into promoting an ideology with which he fundamentally disagrees on religious and moral grounds. The Court essentially failed to put the issue to bed, and so it is now taking up a second case, this time — we hope — finally putting an end to the encroaching abuse on Americans’ fundamental First Amendment rights.

In the case of 303 Creative v. Elenis, a Christian website designer, Lorie Smith, is challenging the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s actions to abuse her First Amendment rights by compelling her to promote speech with which she disagrees. Like Phillips, Smith is a Christian who believes in the biblical definition of marriage and therefore refuses to create websites for same-sex weddings. The Commission claims Smith is violating the state’s nondiscrimination rules and has even prohibited her from explaining her case on her company’s website.

The fundamental issue here is that of compelled speech. Smith has no problem working with and serving anyone regardless of their sexual orientation, but she refuses to endorse ideas and behaviors she believes to be immoral and opposed to her own long-established religious views on marriage. As Smith’s lawyers note, her concept of marriage is a “lifelong unity and devotion as man and wife,” and she refuses to “promote messages contrary to her faith, such as messages that condone violence or promote sexual immorality, abortion, or same-sex marriage.”

The Court now has an opportunity to rule clearly and broadly on the issue of religious liberty and freedom of speech, both fundamental tenets of the First Amendment. In neither of these cases was there discrimination based upon an individual’s immutable characteristics, as is the claim of the Rainbow Mafia. Instead, a business refusing to endorse speech with which it disagrees is a fundamental expression of the right to freedom of speech. In almost any other setting this is clear, but when the Rainbow Mafia gets involved with its agenda to force the broad acceptance and even celebration of sexual immorality and deviancy, suddenly the public gets confused. Hopefully, the Court can finally and correctly clear up the matter for the benefit of all Americans — including those who are in the wrong.

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