Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is celebrating another landmark Supreme Court victory.
After over six years of litigation, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of their client Lorie Smith, who sued the state of Colorado in 2016 for the right to express her beliefs without fear of government punishment.
The case, 303 Creative v. Elenis, involved Lorie Smith, a Colorado resident and website designer who wished to expand her website business to include custom wedding websites. However, she feared that the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act would force her to promote messages through her work that were against her strongly held Christian beliefs.
This is not the first time Alliance Defending Freedom has taken on Colorado at the Supreme Court in a case defending free speech and religious freedom. In 2012, Colorado resident Jack Phillips sued the state Colorado Civil Rights Commission after it found that his bakery had violated Colorado’s public accommodations law because he refused to bake a custom cake with a message that went against his religious convictions.
Alliance Defending Freedom represented Phillips, winning the landmark Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case when the Supreme Court found that the Commission had violated the Free Exercise Clause and Jack’s First Amendment rights.
In its ruling on 303 Creative v. Elenis, the Supreme Court provided clarity on the limits of anti-discrimination laws, emphasizing that such laws cannot compel individuals to express opinions they do not genuinely hold. The Court underscored that the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee not only protects against censorship but also prevents the government from coercing individuals to speak against their will.
“Laws along these lines have done much to secure the civil rights of all Americans,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the Court’s majority. “But in this particular case, Colorado does not just seek to ensure the sale of goods and services on equal terms. It seeks to use the law to compel an individual to create speech she does not believe.”
Gorsuch wrote that the Court has “long held the opportunity to think for ourselves and to express those thoughts freely is among our most cherished liberties and part of what keeps our Republic strong.”
“But tolerance, not coercion, is our Nation’s answer,” he continued. “The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands.”
ADF CEO, President, and General Counsel Kristen Waggoner, who argued before the Supreme Court on behalf of Lorie and 303 Creative, says this is a win for all Americans.
“The U.S. Supreme Court rightly reaffirmed that the government can’t force Americans to say things they don’t believe. The court reiterated that it’s unconstitutional for the state to eliminate from the public square ideas it dislikes, including the belief that marriage is the union of husband and wife,” Waggoner said.”Disagreement isn’t discrimination, and the government can’t mislabel speech as discrimination to censor it. Lorie works with everyone, including clients who identify as LGBT. As the court highlighted, her decisions to create speech always turn on what message is requested, never on who requests it. The ruling makes clear that nondiscrimination laws remain firmly in place, and that the government has never needed to compel speech to ensure access to goods and services,” she added.
The landmark ruling, decided by a 6-3 majority, serves as a defense against government coercion and provides a counterbalance to the growing calls for ideological conformity from progressive quarters. It highlights the importance of protecting individuals from being compelled by the government to endorse viewpoints that contradict their deeply held beliefs.
Alliance Defending Freedom is the world’s largest legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, marriage and family, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.
Since 2011, Alliance Defending Freedom has achieved 15 victories in the Supreme Court. Notable cases like Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, and most recently, 303 Creative v. Elenis, have set significant precedents in favor of religious liberty, leaving a lasting impact on the nation.
Alliance Defending Freedom Church Alliance and Alliance Defending Freedom Ministry Alliance are arms of Alliance Defending Freedom that work exclusively with churches and ministries to protect their free speech and religious rights in an increasingly anti-faith climate.
For more information about Alliance Defending Freedom, visit Alliance Defending Freedom Media. Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, is a document used by employers in the United States to petition for certain nonimmigrant workers to come to the U.S. temporarily for employment.