Supreme Court Turns Down First Amendment Case

The U.S. Supreme Court this week decided not to take up Elane Photography v. Willock, a case in which a professional photographer was punished for declining a request to work due to her religious beliefs.  

In 2006, Elaine Huguenin chose not to use her artistic talents for a same-sex commitment ceremony. While the would-be customer, Vanessa Willock, found another photographer, she proceeded to file a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission. Ultimately, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled against Elane Photography, dismissing an argument that to photograph such a ceremony violated Mrs. Huguenin’s First Amendment right against compelled speech. In a concurring opinion, one of the New Mexico Supreme Court Justices argued that Mrs. Huguenin needed to compromise in this situation as “the price of citizenship.”

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an NRB Member, represented Elane Photography. After the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case, ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman stated, “Elaine and numerous others like her around the country have been more than willing to serve any and all customers, but they are not willing to promote any and all messages. A government that forces any American to create a message contrary to her own convictions is a government every American should fear.”

Another ADF senior counsel, Jordan Lorence, posted in a National Review Online article, “I am concerned that this dark time of viewpoint suppression will get darker before it gets better. Our Founding Fathers gave us the First Amendment to protect people’s freedom of expression and freedom of conscience from these emotional spasms of government coercion. All Americans ought to see this growing threat to our liberty and our First Amendment traditions and speak against it. That is the true ‘price of citizenship.’”

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: April 11, 2014