303 Creative and First Amendment Limits on Antidiscrimination Laws

Thursday, September 21, 2023
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM (ET)
LIB 103
Event Type
Political Science

Pizza will be served...

Thursday, September 21, 11 to 12:15 p.m. in the Heritage Room (LIB 103) panelists Jordon Barkalow, Mark Kemper, Aeon Skoble, Seth Meyer and select students discuss the impact of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis (2023) on antidiscrimination laws in the United States, as well as the principles of compelled expression more generally. 

To remain in compliance with the federal government’s statutory mandate of Constitution Day, the Democratic Governance and Leadership Program and the Philosophy, Politics & Economic Program are sponsoring this event. 


Below is a summary of the case from Oyez

Facts of the case: Lorie Smith is the owner and founder of a graphic design firm, 303 Creative LLC. She wants to expand her business to include wedding websites. However, she opposes same-sex marriage on religious grounds so does not want to design websites for same-sex weddings. She wants to post a message on her own website explaining her religious objections to same-sex weddings. 

The Colorado Antidiscrimination Act (“CADA”) prohibits businesses that are open to the public from discriminating on the basis of numerous characteristics, including sexual orientation. The law defines discrimination not only as refusing to provide goods or services, but also publishing any communication that says or implies that an individual’s patronage is unwelcome because of a protected characteristic. 

Even before the state sought to enforce CADA against her, Smith and her company challenged the law in federal court, alleging numerous constitutional violations. The district court granted summary judgment for the state, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed. 

Question: Does application of the Colorado Antidiscrimination Act to compel an artist to speak or stay silent violate the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment? 

Supreme Court’s Holding: The First Amendment prohibits Colorado from forcing a website designer to create expressive designs that convey messages with which the designer disagrees. 

A blue border with brown and off-white brush strokes with a rectangle in the middle that features the copy for the ad.
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