Justices heard arguments on Monday that will test whether Colorado’s public accommodations law, which bans businesses from discriminating against LGBTQ customers, can have exceptions based on the type of business it is.
The case, 303 Creative v. Elenis, pits a Colorado website designer named Lorie Smith against state officials trying to enforce Colorado’s Anti Discrimination Act.
Smith wants to start creating custom wedding websites. Specifically, she wants to post a message on her company’s site that she would not create websites for same-sex marriage “or any other marriage that is not between one man and one woman,” according to a brief in the case.
But state officials would consider that discriminatory behavior based on the state’s laws, so Smith sued the state.
On Monday, in two and a half hours of debate, the justices seemed poised to rule that creative businesses would be protected by the 1st Amendment and stands apart from, say, hotels or bus companies. They seemed to acknowledge that a state should not be allowed to completely compel a creative business to speak a message it doesn’t believe.