NRB Amicus Brief Urges Supreme Court to Take Up 303 Creative v. Elenis

NRB | November 10, 2021 | Advocacy

Update: On February 22, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear 303 Creative v. Elenis in its upcoming term. Read the press release from Alliance Defending Freedom here.

On October 29, 2021, NRB, alongside several other concerned organizations, filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief to the Supreme Court arguing for the petition in 303 Creative LLC v. Aubrey Elenis to be granted. Amici included NRB, American Family Association (AFA), The Briner Institute (TBI), The Walk TV, and Turning Point USA (TPUSA).

The case, which began in 2016, concerns a Christian web designer, Lorie Smith, who specializes in producing wedding websites through her small business, 303 Creative LLC. Under Colorado law, Smith would be required to use her artistic capabilities to promote same-sex unions in violation of her religious beliefs and be forbidden from publishing language on her site explaining her religious belief or principle. Smith opted to pursue a pre-enforcement challenge, and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

The judge dismissed the first part of the complaint and allowed Smith to proceed only with the part of the legal challenge concerning the law’s prohibition against expressing religious views that could make a potential client feel “unwelcome, objectionable, unacceptable, or undesirable” because of their sexual orientation. The judge also determined that the case should be held until the Supreme Court ruled in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which concerns the same law. In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in Masterpiece Cakeshop’s favor after more than five years of litigation.

ADF attorneys appealed the decision, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled against Smith again in 2021, finding that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act “permissibly compels [Lorie Smith’s] speech” and opining that “a faith that enriches society in one way might also damage society in [an]other.” A lengthy dissent called this view unprecedented.

Therefore, last month, Alliance Defending Freedom referred the case to the Supreme Court on the plaintiff’s behalf with broad support from states, members of Congress, legal scholars, media organizations, and other groups, including NRB.

SCOTUS Blog identified the relevant issues in the case as:

  1. Whether applying a public-accommodation law to compel an artist to speak or stay silent, contrary to the artist’s sincerely held religious beliefs, violates the free speech or free exercise clauses of the First Amendment
  2.  Whether a public-accommodation law that authorizes secular but not religious exemptions is generally applicable under Employment Division v. Smith, and if so, whether the Supreme Court should overrule Smith

NRB opposes all religious viewpoint discrimination and urges the Supreme Court to take up the matter of 303 Creative v. Elenis. Read the amicus brief of National Religious Broadcasters et al., here.

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