by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Justice Neil Gorsuch offered a straight-fire defense of free speech and religious liberty in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 303 Creative v. Elenis decision on Friday, which represented a major win for Americans’ First Amendment rights.
… [T]he high court ruled that the government cannot force Colorado graphic artist Lorie Smith to “make wedding websites celebrating same-sex couples because it would violate her constitutional right to exercise her Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.” The high court further noted that such state-enforced coercion is a violation of Smith’s First Amendment rights.
Writing for the majority, Gorsuch left little doubt the current court has a vested interest in defending Americans’ rights to free speech and religious liberty. …
… Gorsuch blasted Justice Sonia Sotomayor and the dissent for distorting the facts of the case.
“It is difficult to read the dissent and conclude we are looking at the same case. Much of it focuses on the evolution of public accommodations laws … and the strides gay Americans have made towards securing equal justice under law … And, no doubt, there is much to applaud here. But none of this answers the question we face today: Can a State force someone who provides her own expressive services to abandon her conscience and speak its preferred message instead?” …
… State-enforced speech is a blatant violation of the First Amendment.
“If [Ms. Smith] wishes to speak, she must either speak as the State demands or face sanctions for expressing her own beliefs, sanctions that may include compulsory participation in ‘remedial . . . training,’ filing periodic compliance reports as officials deem necessary, and paying monetary fines.”