Kentucky printer standing up for everyone’s expressive freedom
WHO: ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell
WHAT: Available for media interviews following oral arguments in Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission v. Hands On Originals
WHEN: Tuesday, Dec. 13, immediately following hearing, which begins at 2 p.m. EST
WHERE: Kentucky Court of Appeals Courtroom, 360 Democrat Drive, Frankfort
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jim Campbell will be available for media interviews Tuesday following his oral argument at the Kentucky Court of Appeals on behalf of a Lexington printer after the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission appealed the printer’s victory at the trial court level.
The commission ruled in 2014 that Blaine Adamson of Hands On Originals must print messages that conflict with his faith on shirts that customers order from him. ADF attorneys appealed the ruling to the Fayette Circuit Court, which reversed the commission’s decision. The commission then appealed that decision to the Court of Appeals.
“Protecting Blaine’s freedom protects everyone’s freedom, regardless of their beliefs or convictions,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell. “No matter what you believe, the government shouldn’t be able to force you to create speech that conflicts with your deepest convictions. The trial court’s decision rightly affirmed that, and we are asking the court of appeals to do the same.”
The trial court concluded that Adamson did not violate the law when he declined to print expressive shirts promoting the Lexington Pride Festival, hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization. Adamson regularly does business with and employs members of the LGBT community, so his decision was based not on any characteristic of the customer, but solely on Adamson’s constitutionally protected freedom to decline to convey a message with which he disagrees.
“That constitutional principle, at issue because Mr. Adamson declined to produce advocacy materials for the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO), protects all individuals, regardless of their beliefs,” the ADF brief filed with the court in February says, pointing out that “a lesbian owned and operated T-shirt company” and “groups that claim to ‘strongly support gay rights’” have publicly supported Hands On Originals. “For just as surely as the First Amendment protects HOO against the GLSO’s discrimination claim, it also forecloses a religious-discrimination claim against an LGBT printer who refuses to create materials that disparage gays and lesbians. Thus, a ruling for HOO upholds the freedom of all who are asked to produce expression that they consider objectionable,” the brief explains.
The court also received friend-of-the-court briefs in support of Hands On Originals from The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (joined by constitutional scholar Douglas Laycock of the University of Virginia Law School), The Cato Institute (joined by free-speech scholar Eugene Volokh of the UCLA School of Law), the Sutherland Institute, and the American Center for Law and Justice.
Although Adamson declined to print the shirts because he did not want to convey the message that would be printed on them, he nevertheless offered to put the GLSO in touch with another printer that would produce the shirts. Unsatisfied, the GLSO filed a complaint with the commission despite eventually obtaining the shirts for free from another printer.
ADF-allied attorney Bryan Beauman with Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney, PLLC, of Lexington is co-counsel for Hands On Originals in the case.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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