On Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled in favor of Colorado-based web designer Lorie Smith who sought to exempt her business in federal court from the state's anti-discrimination laws.
A lower federal court denied Smith's petition for an exception, sending it to the nation's highest court.
In a 6-3 decision, SCOTUS granted Smith's claim that requiring her to create a website for something that goes against her Christian beliefs would be tantamount to compelled speech.
"The opportunity to think for ourselves and to express those thoughts freely is among our most cherished liberties and part of what keeps our Republic strong," Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
He continued, "The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands."
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the dissent, joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson.
"Today the Court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class," Sotomayor wrote. "Today is a sad day in American constitutional law and in the lives of LGBT people."
LGBTQ+ individuals are a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The decision does not outright grant the right of businesses to deny services to protected classes. Instead, the majority opinion wrote that Smith's company was unique in that "Ms. Smith does not seek to sell an ordinary commercial good but intends to create 'customized and tailored' speech for each couple."
Sewell took to Twitter to express her displeasure at the decision, calling the decision "a dangerous overreach with broad implications."
Let's be clear about what this means—the Supreme Court has cleared the way for businesses to discriminate against a protected class in the name of free speech.— Rep. Terri A. Sewell (@RepTerriSewell) June 30, 2023
This is a dangerous overreach with broad implications. Every American who values equality should be concerned. https://t.co/QU314EgFyd
"Let's be clear about what this means—the Supreme Court has cleared the way for businesses to discriminate against a protected class in the name of free speech," Sewell wrote. "This is a dangerous overreach with broad implications. Every American who values equality should be concerned."
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