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Phil Weiser files written allegations in Supreme Court case of business seeking to deny service to gay couple

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On Friday, the Colorado Attorney General spoke out of his office about an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case involving a Denver-area graphic designer who claims the state’s antidiscrimination law violates her free speech. I explained my claim.

In a written brief, Phil Weiser argued that Colorado’s public accommodation laws do not infringe on a business owner’s protected free speech. Graphics Lorie Smith, owner of her design firm 303 Creative, is asking the Supreme Court to grant her the right to post messages on her website. She says she doesn’t design wedding websites for same-sex couples because of her strong religious beliefs. .

“Essentially, 303 Creative does not want to serve all customers equally,” Weiser said at a press conference, outlining his arguments in defense of state law. is not protected speech under the First Amendment.”

Weiser’s filing is a small procedural step in a case that has been circling Colorado courts for years. Last year, the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Smith 2 to 1 that Smith’s request violated Colorado’s antidiscrimination law and that the act itself did not violate the First Amendment. did.

Smith appealed the judgment. In February, the Supreme Court agreed to address the free speech issue of the case, but not the religious freedom aspect.

In other words, the judge will determine whether applying Colorado’s public facilities law, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.

Smith and her lawyers argue so.

“This lawsuit seeks to protect the right of all Americans to say what they believe without fear of government punishment,” said Liberty, a conservative legal group representing Smith. said Jake Warner, an attorney for the Alliance defending

The case is similar to the 2018 Masterpiece Cakeshop case, in which a Lakewood bakery was sued after refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. was raised before she started her wedding website design business.

Both sides see the lawsuit as potentially resolving the constitutional question of whether creative professionals should be commissioned to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, regardless of their religious views on same-sex marriage. ing.

“I’ve been waiting nearly six years to create and design a website to celebrate a wedding without being forced by Colorado to do the unbelievable,” Smith wrote in a National Review column earlier this year. “I am not just standing for my freedom to speak freely. increase.

If precedent is any indication, Smith could face an uphill battle in the nation’s Supreme Court, which has ruled in favor of state anti-discrimination laws for decades.

Weiser said his office plans to draw on that history.

“Regulating practices that prohibit discrimination is a protected activity, and it is very important that we do not break that line,” Weiser said. “When companies say we are open to the public, it means they must serve all members of the public.”

The ADF, the organization representing Smith, will be given the opportunity to submit a response to Weiser’s brief. Both sides are scheduled to hold oral arguments in October.

Alison Shelley of CPR contributed to this report.