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Supreme Court of the United States

Does Artistic Freedom Still Exist? Lorie Smith Asks Supreme Court to Weigh In and Say Yes

By Sarah Kramer posted on:
September 24, 2021

Lorie Smith could use some clarity—as could creative professionals across the country.

Lorie owns 303 Creative , a web design business in the Denver area, where she creates beautiful, custom websites for her clients. In 2016, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a lawsuit on Lorie’s behalf , challenging a Colorado law that would force her to design websites promoting messages that violate her religious beliefs. On top of that, the law prevents Lorie from expressing on her own website her religious reasons for only creating websites celebrating certain messages and ideas.

It’s this same law that has been used to target Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips over the past nine years. Jack has been involved in three different legal actions after declining to express messages through his custom cakes that violate his religious beliefs.

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Colorado for its anti-religious hostility toward Jack. This was great news! But it was not enough to stop some in Colorado from continuing to target creative professionals like Jack, who serve everyone but cannot use their artistic talents to express every message or celebrate every event.

The question remains: Do creative professionals have the freedom to decide which messages they celebrate through their art?

So far, court decisions across the country have been mixed.

That’s why, after a truly puzzling decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit , Lorie is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in. Today, ADF filed a petition with the Court asking it to hear Lorie’s case.

In July, the 10th Circuit ruled that Colorado’s law does, in fact, compel speech based on viewpoint. The court also admitted that the law creates a double standard: while religious artists are required to create messages celebrating same-sex marriage, secular artists have the freedom to decline to speak messages with which they disagree.

You would think this would be enough to strike down this law as unconstitutional.

But that’s not what happened.

Instead, the 10th Circuit ruled that the government can force Lorie to create and express messages and celebrate events that violate her faith. Essentially, the court ruled that the government can promote its favored ideology and force creative professionals to comply.

This directly conflicts with the 8th and 11th Circuits, as well as the Arizona Supreme Court , which have all ruled that the government may not force artists to speak in violation of their beliefs.

That’s why Lorie is asking the Supreme Court to sort this out.

No one should be banished from the marketplace simply for living and working consistently with their religious beliefs.

Just because Lorie's beliefs differ from the government’s doesn’t mean her rights to speak and create freely receive less protection. After all, freedom of speech is for everyone—not only those who agree with the government.

Please join us in praying that the Supreme Court agrees to hear Lorie’s case and makes this clear.

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Sarah Kramer

Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

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