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Supreme Court to review Colorado religious liberty case

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Derek Draplin | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – The U.S. Supreme Court will review a lower court’s decision in a religious liberty lawsuit challenging Colorado’s anti-discrimination law.

Lorie Smith, owner of the website design company 303 Creative, filed a lawsuit in 2016 challenging Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act that bars her from refusing to design websites for same-sex marriages, which are contrary to her Christian beliefs. 

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The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing Smith, argues the state law violates her First Amendment rights.

In July, a 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled that the state law “permissibly compels” Smith’s speech, so the ADF petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case. 

“We must also consider the grave harms caused when public accommodations discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. Combating such discrimination is, like individual autonomy, ‘essential’ to our democratic ideals,” the panel’s majority wrote in its decision.

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ADF General Counsel Kristen Waggoner called the court’s decision “shocking” in a statement on Tuesday, saying that “government doesn’t have the power to silence or compel creative expression under the threat of punishment.”

Waggoner added that Colorado’s law threatens “Constitutionally protected freedoms and the very existence of a diverse and free nation.”

ADF also represented Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips in previous lawsuits challenging the state law.

The Colorado attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.