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July 10, 2023

Victory for Religious Liberty

Our religious liberty and our freedom of speech both won a big victory at the Supreme Court in one decision announced on June 30. The court, in the case 303 Creative LLC. v. Elenis, ruled 6 to 3 that Colorado cannot force a Christian website designer to create websites celebrating same-sex marriage.

The designer, Lorie Smith, filed a challenge to Colorado's Anti-Discrimination Act, contending that the law would force her to provide services for a same-sex couple's wedding. She argued that doing so would violate her Christian faith and belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

In July 2021, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, by a 2 to 1 vote, ruled against Smith. The case was then appealed to the Supreme Court, and the result was last week's victory.

Writing for the majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch gave a stunning defense of the First Amendment's protection of free speech. He said the 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."

The three dissenting justices, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson issued a strong dissent. They made it clear they would have forced an American citizen to write and promote ideas that were deeply offensive to her religious beliefs. JDFI believes that the opinion by the three dissenters is outrageous. If government at any level can force us to speak, write, or create messages promoting things that offend our conscience, America will cease to be a free nation.

We can't help but notice that the six justices who voted to safeguard the freedom of speech and of religion were all appointed by conservative presidents. In contrast, the three dissenting justices that were willing to force Smith to violate her conscience were appointed by liberal presidents. It is a stark reminder that elections matter.

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