Should business owners be forced to participate in transactions that they find morally objectionable? And should they be punished for saying, “Sorry, your request is just not for me?”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, are at the head of more than 50 Congressional Republicans who are filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court over these exact questions.
Some 20 Senate and 38 House of Representatives co-signers are calling on justices to safeguard free speech and religious liberty in a case that recalls that of a Colorado bakery that would not make a wedding cake for a gay marriage.
In 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, Colorado-based web designer Lorie Smith has asserted that her religious beliefs do not allow her to build a custom wedding website for a same-sex couple.
Why a same-sex couple would want a disapproving party to create their website is a mystery, but in any case the high court will decide whether using a public-accommodation law to force an artist to speak a certain way violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.
“Compelled speech against anyone’s religious beliefs is an egregious infringement on the most fundamental liberties our Constitution protects. Every American should have the freedom to pursue their professions without being forced to sacrifice their religious beliefs,” Cruz told FOX News Digital.
In the Masterpiece Cakeshop case in 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that business owner Jack Phillips was treated with anti-religious bias for refusing to bake a wedding cake. Not addressed was the larger issue of whether a business can assert religious liberty when refusing to work with a customer.
“The government doesn’t have the power to silence or compel creative expression under the threat of punishment,” said General Counsel Kristen Waggoner of The Alliance Defending Freedom, Smith’s attorney. “It’s shocking that the 10th Circuit would permit Colorado to punish artists whose speech isn’t in line with state-approved ideology.”