Conservative Supreme Court justices, who constitute a 6-3 bench majority, signaled their support Monday for a Colorado-based web designer who does not want to provide services for same-sex couples, The Hill reported.
During more than two hours of argument, conservative justices railed against lawyers defending Colorado's current anti-discrimination measure, which prevents a religious exemption for those denying services to LGBT individuals.
Lorie Smith, the web designer in question, has claimed that First Amendment protections to religious liberty prevent her from needing to create sites for same-sex weddings. A ruling in her favor would likely render the Colorado law invalid.
"Let's just say that [The New York Times] for Gay Pride Month decides that it's going to run ... only same-sex marriage announcements, turns away heterosexual announcements, not because it disparages or disagrees with opposite-sex unions but because it's trying to promote something else," Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked. "Can it do that? That's a protected characteristic under the law."
Colorado Solicitor General Eric Olson replied: "I think the answer is no."
Justice Brett Kavanaugh warned that a win for Colorado could lead to a hypothetical situation where a freelance speechwriter is compelled to write a speech with a message that violates their "most deeply held convictions."
Deputy Solicitor General Brian Fletcher responded that "speechwriters aren't likely to be public accommodations" before Kavanaugh interjected with the quip, "Until they are after this case if you prevail. I mean, that's what states could do."
Smith has already lost two rounds in the lower courts with her case against Colorado's public accommodation law. Under current rules, the state can fine businesses up to $500 for each violation of discriminating against those based on sexual orientation.
According to the outlet, a decision in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis is expected by the summer of 2023.
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