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Web designer given okay to discriminate against same-sex couples

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Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the court’s majority opinion, emphasized that Smith’s first-amendment right to free speech — specifically the right to abstain from expressing support for same-sex marriage — takes precedence over a Colorado law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“Ms. Smith seeks to engage in protected First Amendment speech; Colorado seeks to compel speech she does not wish to provide. As the Tenth Circuit observed, if Ms. Smith offers wedding websites celebrating marriages she endorses, the State intends to compel her to create custom websites celebrating other marriages she does not. That is an impermissible abridgement of the First Amendment’s right to speak freely.”

However, the court’s three liberal justices dissented, arguing that Smith’s actions, rather than her speech, were the central concern.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote — and she was joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson — that this ruling sets a dangerous precedent.

“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,” wrote Sotomayor.

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