Supreme Court To Decide on LGBT Discrimination and Free Speech

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could impact the First Amendment and define the bounds of discrimination and religious freedom.

The case: Small business owner and Christian Lorie Smith does not want to create websites for same-sex weddings, but this would go against Colorado’s anti-discrimination law. Smith has not yet rejected any same-sex customers and is suing the state to show that the law violates her First Amendment rights by forcing her to publish messages against her religion.

Remember the cake shop? In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. But that decision left the larger constitutional question about the distinction between speech and discrimination unanswered. That could now be decided in Smith’s case.

Why it matters: The Supreme Court will draw the line between speech and discrimination in this case. Is a business owner’s decision to decline a service a form of freedom of speech or discrimination? The conservative-dominated Court will likely rule in favor of Smith.

→ From conservatives: Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch argued that this situation is not comparable to a hotel denying rooms based on race or sexual identity; Smith is creating a highly customized product for her customers. They believe Colorado shouldn’t be able to force her expression.

→ From liberals: Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson disagreed with Thomas and Gorsuch’s hotel hypothetical and argued that ruling in favor of Smith could lead to racial discrimination.

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