Briefline

Lamborn, Cruz ask Supreme Court to review decision in Colorado religious liberty case

By: - November 1, 2021 12:46 pm

A view of the U.S. Supreme Court on May 17, 2012. (Architect of the Capitol/Government works)

Rep. Doug Lamborn and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas asked the Supreme Court to review a circuit court decision that “prohibits a Colorado business owner from exercising her free speech and religious liberty rights,” Lamborn announced in a statement on Friday. 

Business owner Lorie Smith runs a website design company called 303 Creative. She is expanding her business into designing custom websites for customers planning weddings. 

Smith says a court document that she is willing to work with everyone, regardless of their religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation, but she will decline any request to design or promote content that “contradicts biblical truth,” which includes promoting any conception of marriage other than one between a man and a woman, promoting sexual immorality, or anything that demeans or disparages others or incites violence.

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The document also says that these restrictions preclude the inclusion of wedding services for same-sex couples. 

Under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, Smith must provide these services for same-sex weddings, according to Lamborn’s press release. 

Lamborn and Cruz, both Republicans, led an amicus brief in the case of 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, stating that a Tenth Circuit decision allows “the State to ‘wield CADA as a sword’ to compel speech conflicting with an individual’s deeply held beliefs.”

Trump rally Colorado Springs
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican, shakes hands with President Donald Trump on stage during a Keep America Great rally Feb. 20, 2020, in Colorado Springs. (Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

The case asks whether the First Amendment prohibits a public accommodations law that “compels an artist to speak or stay silent, contrary to the artist’s sincerely held religious belief,” according to the Oct. 28 brief. 

“The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that the state can compel Ms. Smith’s creative speech — a decision that is wrong and should be reviewed by the Supreme Court,” Lamborn, of Colorado Springs, wrote in the press release. 

Republican Reps. Lauren Boebert, of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, and Ken Buck, of the 4th Congressional District, also signed the brief. 

Smith cannot provide custom services for same-sex weddings “without violating her Christian faith,” Cruz wrote in an Oct. 29 press release

“Religious speech holds a uniquely important and protected place in American history and jurisprudence,” the brief says. “Ms. Smith and others like her deserve the strongest possible First Amendment protection. The Court should grant the petition.” 

The case is a follow-on to the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In 2012, Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, declined to create a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins. Phillips said he would not create a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage because of his religious beliefs. Lamborn supported Phillips, and wrote an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of Phillips. In 2017, Lamborn wrote an editorial entitled “In defense of a cake artist and our rights,” where he argued that “artists should never be forced to create masterpieces that their consciences cannot support,” and he asked if the government would “force a Muslim singer to perform at a Christian religious event.” 

The Supreme Court reversed the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s decision and ruled that the Commission did not act with religious neutrality. The Supreme Court did not rule on the constitutional question of freedom of religion in their decision.

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