Lorie Smith is a Christian graphic artist who owns 303 Creative. She designs custom websites and loves to use her talents to help others. Her decision to create custom wedding websites that are consistent with her Christian beliefs got her in legal trouble in Colorado. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case 303 Creative v. Elenis on Monday.
The issue at stake is whether an artist has the legal ability to decide how they will use their skills and talents. An artist should have the right to determine which issues they will support. However, the State of Colorado and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
According to Lathan Watts at The Daily Signal, Smith decides what she will custom-design “based on her beliefs, the message being requested, and her own expertise.” She creates only custom designs, and each design “must be consistent with her faith.” Smith is like other artists in that she does not “promote every message requested.” As examples, “she can’t create art that promotes certain political messages or casinos. She also can’t design anything that is un-American, degrades people who identify as LGBT, or disrespects someone’s faith.”
Colorado is seeking to force Smith and all other artists “to forfeit their right to free speech as a cost of doing business.”
As specious as that claim is, its tenuous link to credulity is further weakened by the fact that the state only imposes this Faustian bargain on those who disagree with the state’s current preferred message on marriage. Its position is clear: Speak the state’s message or don’t speak at all.
Suppression of viewpoints that conflict with the government’s is what characterizes every tyrannical regime.
Coerced speech and censorship are two sides of the same unconstitutional coin. Even in the darkest times of American history, when Jim Crow laws were enforced and state governments attempted to crush the civil rights movement, freedom of speech exercised peacefully in marches and protests eventually pierced hearts and prompted the American conscience to finally live up to its promise “that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.”
The 303 Creative v. Elenis case is an excellent opportunity for the Supreme Court to remember its promise made at the time of the Obergefell v. Hodges decision. The promise was that those who disagreed would not lose the right to speak consistent with their beliefs that marriage is between a husband and wife.
After all, this case transcends the marriage issue. It’s about whether the government can purge people (and their ideas) from the marketplace simply because the government doesn’t like their beliefs. We are right to expect and demand that government treat people equally under the law by protecting everyone’s right to free speech.
If Smith wins the case at the Supreme Court, all Americans will win with her. If she loses, we all lose. According to Watts, the question “What kind of country do we strive to be?” is at the heart of this case.