Supreme Court Issues Landmark Ruling Upholding Free Speech with Major Impact for Religious Americans
Today, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling that will have a profound impact on religious Americans. In 303 Creative v. Elenis, the Court held that the government cannot compel an individual to engage in speech that does not align with his personal beliefs.
The case involved Ms. Lorie Smith, a website designer who wished to expand her business to include wedding websites. However, Ms. Smith was concerned that she would be forced, under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA), to design websites that violated her religious beliefs. CADA prohibits businesses that are open to the public from discriminating against potential customers on the basis of numerous characteristics, including sexual orientation.
While Ms. Smith was committed to providing her services to any individual, she was concerned that she would be compelled to create websites for same gender weddings, which violated her faith. Ms. Smith filed a lawsuit requesting an injunction which would protect her from being penalized under CADA.
However, the lower courts dismissed Ms. Smith’s request for an injunction, holding that she was bound by the provisions of CADA.
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed those decisions and ruled that the First Amendment protects an individual’s right to espouse his personal beliefs or to refrain from speech that would violate his personal beliefs regardless of whether they align with the State’s views on the particular issue in question.
“Today’s ruling is critical for those who wish to operate their business while not violating their personal and religious beliefs,” said Daniel Kaminetsky, Esq., general counsel of Agudath Israel. “We are gratified that the Supreme Court has upheld the First Amendment rights of all Americans.”
“In recent years we have seen a very concerning and significant rise in instances of religious individuals being compelled to engage in speech that violates their beliefs,” said Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel. “Today’s ruling, we hope, will put an end to this troubling trend.”