In July, Christian web designer Lorie Smith and her web design company 303 Creative was forced by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit’s panel to design websites for same-sex couples despite it being in violation of her deeply held religious beliefs. This ruling, which claims Smith violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, is in fact a violation of her religious rights.
Which is why Alliance Defending Freedom or ADF has sought out the Supreme Court to hear her case.
According to an ADF update, the group representing Smith filed a petition with the Supreme Court asking to hear the Christian artist’s religious freedom case on Friday. This was in response to the 10th Circuit’s panel’s decision to force Smith to “create and express messages and celebrate events that violate her faith.” The court essentially ruled in July that “the government can promote its favored ideology and force creative professionals to comply,” even going as far as suggesting that her faith can “damage society.”
This decision by the 10th Circuit panel is in direct conflict with the 8th and 11th Circuits and the Arizona Supreme Court, which all agree that the government “may not force artists to speak in violation of their beliefs.”
“Every American, including artists, should be free to peacefully live and work according to their faith without fear of unjust punishment by the government,” ADF Legal Counsel Samuel Green argued. “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.”
Smith maintains that she does not discriminate against the LGBT community, but refuses to create wedding websites for LGBT individuals because it is not in accordance to her Christian beliefs, saying that she “will not be able to create websites for same-sex marriages or any other marriage that is not between one man and one woman,” Colorado Politics reported.
Smith’s attorneys at ADF claims that the 10th Circuit took the “took the extreme position that the government may compel an artist to to create expressive content, even if that content violates her faith.” Chief Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich, an appointee of President George W. Bush. Tymkovich, called the 10th Circuit’s decision “unprecedented” and that the “the majority’s opinion endorses substantial government interference in matters of speech, religion, and conscience,” in such a way that George Orwell once described.
Smith is now asking the Supreme Court to consider hearing her case and consider to overrule its 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, which says that governments may enact laws that “place burdens on religious exercise, as long as the laws do not single out religion.”
Smith claims that her case is evidence that the government has singled out religious speech for enforcement and alleges that either the Employment Division v. Smith or the 10th Circuit’s decision on her case should stand, but not both.