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The Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority upheld anti-LGBTQ discrimination in a ruling handed down Friday morning.
In its majority opinion, the Court ruled in favor of a Colorado website designer who refuses to make wedding websites for gay couples. The web designer, Lorie Smith of 303 Creative, LLC, sued Colorado after the state passed a law banning discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.
According to the opinion, Smith worries the law would “compel her… to create websites celebrating marriages she does not endorse”.
Smith’s lawsuit, submitted on behalf of her company, claimed the law violated her First Amendment rights.
It’s notable that Smith was never actually forced to create any website. She sued over the possibility of having to provide services to LGBTQ+ couples.
Court labels LGBTQ+ discrimination a “First Amendment right”
In the majority opinion, Neil Gorsuch claimed that Colorado sought to “deny the promise” of First Amendment rights to Smith.
Gorsuch claimed the First Amendment pertains to all manners of speech, including in providing business services.
“No less can hold true when it comes to speech like Ms. Smith’s conveyed over the Internet,” he wrote.
In the dissenting opinion, Justice Sotomayor warned against the majority’s decision, saying it “shrinks” the Court.
“Time and again, businesses and other commercial entities have claimed constitutional rights to discriminate,” Sotomayor wrote. “And time and again, this Court has courageously stood up to those claims – until today.”
“Today,” she continued, “the Court shrinks.”
Congressman calls case a “hypothetical scenario from the mind of a bigot”
Lorie Smith, the plaintiff who brought the case to the Supreme Court, celebrated her victory in prepared, televised remarks.
Sitting alongside her attorney, Smith claimed the decision was “a victory for all of us”.
“Free speech,” Smith said, “is for all of us.”
Smith’s attorney claimed the decision would provide added rights to other individuals who may not want to be compelled to practice business that goes against their beliefs. The attorney gave the example of a pro-abortion photographer now being able to deny requests to photograph a pro-abortion rally.
That comparison, however, fails to reflect an accurate understanding of the law. The Colorado law aimed to ensure individuals could not be discriminated against because of their identity.
“We’re not issues,” GLAAD President Sarah said responding to the comparison. “We’re people.”
Congressman Maxwell Alejandro Frost (D-FL), an openly LGBTQ+ member of the House of Representatives, also took issue with Smith’s claims.
“I’m incredibly disheartened by what we’ve seen from the Supreme Court today,” Frost told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell.
“This case was based on a hypothetical that came from the mind of a bigoted lady,” he continued.
Frost went on to express concerns about the precedent the decision sets for future cases before the Court.
“How many more Supreme Court cases will be based on something that hasn’t even happened yet?” he asked.