In a 2–1 ruling, the court decided to restrict Smith’s ability to articulate her political views on her company’s website, arguing that she instead should promote the agenda of the Left.
In this instance, the Court ruled that Smith must be compelled to create graphics on her website in support of gays or lesbians.
“The Constitution neither forces Ms. Smith to compromise her beliefs nor condones the government doing so,” wrote dissenting Judge Timothy Tymkovich. “In fact, this case illustrates exactly why we have a First Amendment,” he added.
Tymkovich also warned the concurring judges that this precedent, once established, could spiral out of control.
“This is, in a word, unprecedented,” he continued. “Taken to its logical end, the government could regulate the messages communicated by all artists, forcing them to promote messages approved by the government in the name of ‘ensuring access to the commercial marketplace.'”
The case calls to mind cake-shop owner Jack Phillips, who also lives in Colorado.
Phillips was fined $500 for refusing to bake a cake for a transgender reassignment surgery party in 2012.
His case eventually reached the Supreme Court, which narrowly reversed the decision.
Nevertheless, Phillips remains caught up in an ongoing legal battle, much to the detriment of his business.
Similarly, Smith challenged Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act, which, according to the court “permissibly compels” that Smith speak and write in a certain manner, as defined by the act.
Yet Smith is not without support. Alliance Defending Freedom has come to her aid in hopes of reversing the decision upon appeal.
“The government should never force creative professionals to promote a message or cause with which they disagree. That is quintessential free speech and artistic freedom,” said John Bursch, attorney and vice president of Alliance Defending Freedom, in a press release.