New Supreme Court Justice Implies ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ Is Racist

Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson begins the court case with arguments of racism.

  • The free speech case began Monday and revolves around Lorie Smith, a Colorado web designer who sued Colorado over anti-discrimination laws.
  • The case, 303 Creative v. Elenis, claimed the current law compelled her to express support for same-sex marriage.
  • In 2021, a United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled against Smith in a divided panel.
  • Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson referenced the classic Christmas movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and racism during oral arguments.
  • Brown Jackson also during arguments, cited a photographer who refused to photograph non-white children with Santa Claus.
  • Brown Jackson presented a hypothetical situation to attorney Kristen Waggoner, CEO, President, and General Counsel of the Alliance Defending Freedom, saying, “I want to do video depictions of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ and knowing that movie very well, I want to be authentic, and so only white children and families can be customers for that particular product. Everybody else… I will sell them anything they want, just not the ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ depictions.” 
  • The Associate Justice continued, “I‘m expressing something, right? … I can say anti-discrimination laws can’t make me sell ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ packages to non-white individuals.”
  • Waggoner responded, “I would say first of all … when there is a message and a status and it’s overlapping, the court would say that message wins in that instance.”
  •  Jackson continues the hypothetical questioning by saying, “I have certain products I will only sell to white individuals because the speech that I‘m trying to depict is the authentic depiction of that scene as I understand it and that I want to put out there in the world and it has my signature on the bottom of it, so people are seeing my photos and I want my photos of it‘s a wonderful life to be authentic, meaning no people of color.”
  • Jackson also asked Waggoner: “Can you give me your thoughts on a photography business in a shopping mall during this holiday season that offers a product called scenes with Santa? This business wants to express its own view of nostalgia about Christmases past by reproducing classic 1940’s and 1950’s Santa scenes they do it in sepia tone and they are customizing each one, it’s not off the rack, they are bringing people and them interact with Santa as children because they are trying to capture the feelings of a certain era. But precisely because they are trying to capture the feelings of a certain era, their policy is that only white children can be photographed in this way because that’s how they view the scenes with Santa that they are trying to depict.”
  • Waggoner responded, “The specific objection you are including is not necessarily in that photograph but even if it were, this court has protected vile, awful, reprehensible, violent speech in the past.”
  • Lorie Smith, a Christian that designs websites, is challenging the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act by asserting that it violates her First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion.
  • She is fighting for her right to create messages that align with her religious beliefs and wishes to publish those beliefs on her website.
  • Smith’s case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which is only considering the free speech question, not the free exercise of religion issue.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled for Colorado, using what the plaintiff’s brief argued was a “novel, artists-are-monopolists theory.”