LGBTQ rights advocates say Smith and his business, 303 Creative, should be treated like any other business and should serve customers without regard to their sexuality. The discourse at issue in the case is that of same-sex couples, not businessmen like Smith, argue gay rights lawyers.
The case, 303 Creative vs. Eleniscould serve as a vehicle for the supreme court’s conservative six-judge majority to effectively curtail LGBTQ rights without head-on attacking recent Supreme Court decisions guaranteeing the right to same-sex marriage and finding that existing laws against sex discrimination protect LGBTQ people from discrimination.
When the high court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015, Republican-appointed dissenting justices predicted clashes over the rights of religious people to maintain their beliefs in the traditional concept of marriage between a man and a woman. woman.
Judge Samuel Alito wrote that the court’s opinion finding the right to same-sex marriage would be used to “vilify those unwilling to accept the new orthodoxy.”
In the years that followed the 2015 decision, conservative justices tried to take cases that raised similar issues to the one on Monday over web designers’ rights. In 2018, the court issued an imprecise ruling about the case of a Colorado bakery owner who refused to make custom cakes for same-sex weddings.
While the decision was widely expected to establish a framework for resolving collisions between religious beliefs and the rights of same-sex couples, the judges never offered such broad guidance, instead ruling that Colorado officials exhibited unconstitutional hostility. towards the religious views of the baker.
Civil rights advocates warn that the latest challenge poses a danger not only to LGBTQ rights, but also to long-standing laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, gender and religious belief.
During the 1960s, the Supreme Court and other federal courts roundly rejected arguments that individuals and businesses could challenge racial discrimination laws by asserting opposition based on religion.
Fears in the LGBTQ community about legal setbacks have grown since the Supreme Court issued its decision in June striking down the nearly half-century-old federal right to abortion.
The concurrence of Justice Clarence Thomas accompanying that ruling said they would be in favor of reviewing the 2015 decision finding a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage. However, many legal analysts predicted that conservative justices who now outnumber their liberal colleagues by six to three to whittle away LGBTQ rights over the next few years are more likely than they are to overturn a widely accepted decision on intermarriage rights. of the same sex.
But the current batch of Republican-appointed judges has hardly been hostile to gay rights. Just two years ago, President Donald Trump appointee Justice Neil Gorsuch and President George W. Bush appointee Chief Justice John Roberts joined four Democratic-appointed justices to issue a landmark decision. in favor of LGBTQ rights.
To the surprise of many court observers, Gorsuch wrote the opinion, concluding that a literal reading of the longstanding law against sex discrimination in the workplace prevented discrimination against gay, lesbian, and transgender people, even though it Congress failed for decades to pass legislation that would explicitly add such protections.