George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley hailed a “victory” for free speech after the U.S. Supreme Court protected the First Amendment rights of a web designer targeted by the rainbow mafia.
Turley said during the June 30 edition of America’s Newsroom on Fox News that the Court’s decision in 303 Creative LLC et al. v. Elenis et al (2022) was “a momentous victory for free speech.” The Court ruled 6-3 in favor of a Colorado web designer who objected to creating websites for gay weddings due to her Christian beliefs.
Turley said that the Court’s position, authored by Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, “[w]ill go down as one of the most important cases Gorsuch has ever handed down in my view.” During his appearance, Turley emphasized how important this victory was for the First Amendment, before elaborating on the distinction between public accommodation laws and creative products.
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell also praised the ruling on Twitter, stating in a tweet: “Great SCOTUS win for Free Speech and the First Amendment! The Colorado web designer doesn’t have to violate her religious beliefs.”
Great SCOTUS win for Free Speech and the First Amendment! The Colorado web designer doesn’t have to violate her religious beliefs.
— Brent Bozell (@BrentBozell) June 30, 2023
Turley stipulated that creators being forced to make something that directly violates their religious or moral convictions was in fact a First Amendment violation. The 303 Creative web designer and others who underwent similar legal situations like Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Philips, in effect, did not run afoul of their states’ public accommodation laws:
“You cannot be uh refused to go into stores and buy items that are pre-made, for example, uh based on your race or your status. In fact, in Masterpiece Cakeshop — the owner said, ‘No, we don’t discriminate against anyone. We don’t make any inquiries. It’s only when you ask me to make a cake that expresses the celebration of a same-sex marriage that it really confronts the religious views that I have, and I don’t want to do that.’ Uh so, what the Court is saying here is that with these types of creative products, it is speech.”
The professor emphasized why the 303 Creative case was in fact a free speech case. “I would feel the same way about Nazis going into a bakery and asking a Jewish baker to produce an anti-Semitic cake, uh or to ask an African-American baker to produce a KKK cake,” Turley said. “Various people have strong feelings that they don’t want to be forced to express countervailing values.”
Colorado has infamously and relentlessly shown that it’s willing to hound people of faith such as Philips for being true to their religious convictions. The Court now affirms that “[t]he First Amendment prohibits Colorado from forcing a website designer to create expressive designs speaking messages with which the designer disagrees.”
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