WASHINGTON, DC – US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today led a bicameral amicus brief with his fellow Republicans in the case of 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, asking the Supreme Court to review a circuit court ruling that bars a Colorado business owner from exercising his rights to free speech and religious freedom. Petitioner Lorie Smith runs web design company 303 Creative and cannot provide personalized services for same-sex marriages without violating her Christian faith. Under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA), however, she must not only provide these personalized services, she is not even allowed to explain her disagreement. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that the state can compel Ms Smith’s creative speech – a decision that is in error and should be reviewed by the Supreme Court. This case follows Pastry masterpiece, another Colorado case in which Senator Cruz led an amicus brief in 2018, which supported Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips as he claimed the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated his constitutional rights by acting with hostility towards his religious faith.
The senatorial co-signers of the amicus brief are Senators Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), John Boozman (Ark.), Mike Braun (Ind.), John Cornyn (Texas), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Steve Daines (Mont. ), James E. Risch (Idaho), Josh Hawley (Mo.), James Inhofe (Okla.), James Lankford (Okla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Marco Rubio (Florida), John Thune (SD), Thom Tillis (NC) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
The amicus brief is led in the House of Representatives by US Representative Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.).
In the brief, the members wrote:
“As this Court has long recognized, ‘[a]t the heart of the First Amendment is the principle that each person should decide for themselves what ideas and beliefs deserve to be expressed, considered, and respected. Governmental coercion of artistic expression like that of Ms. Smith “violates this essential right”. Identifier. The Court should grant the request.
The Tenth Circuit reasoning clearly shows the true purpose of CADA’s speech compulsions: to compel dissidents to express opinions with which they disagree and to silence opposing views. After all, as Tenth Circuit recognized, same-sex couples have no shortage of alternative wedding website design options.
The point of applying CADA to Ms. Smith, therefore, is not in providing public housing; it is to force her to conform her speech to the dominant opinion. Yet it is well established that the state “is not free to interfere with speech for the sole reason of promoting an endorsed message or discouraging a disadvantaged message, as enlightened as either of these. targets can strike the government ”.
“The First Amendment ensures that individuals of all faiths” receive appropriate protection as they seek to teach the principles which are so fulfilling and so essential to their lives and their faith. ”
“Yet the Tenth Circuit ruling allows the state to ‘wield CADA like a sword’ to compel speech that conflicts with an individual’s deeply held beliefs. For example, an atheist musician might be forced to perform at an evangelical church service. Or a Muslim tattoo artist might be forced to write “My religion is the only true religion” on a Christian’s body. These results do not reflect – and deeply undermine – our long-standing traditions of the First Amendment.
“Religious discourse occupies a particularly important and protected place in American history and jurisprudence. Mrs. Smith and others like her deserve the strongest possible protection of the First Amendment. The Court should grant the request.
Read the full text of the amicus brief here.