Lankford, Cruz, Colleagues Submit Amicus Brief in Support of a Colorado Christian Business Owner’s Right to Religious Liberty

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) joined Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) in a bicameral amicus brief with their Republican colleagues in the case of 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, calling for the Supreme Court to review a circuit court decision that prohibits a Colorado business owner from exercising her free speech and religious liberty rights.

“The government should never have the power to compel speech or threaten Americans with fines to force them to violate their religious beliefs,” said Lankford. “A diverse nation has diverse opinions that should be heard and respected. We should not allow the continued erosion of our First Amendment rights because some in our nation want to force Americans to promote messages they disagree with or they will silence the disagreement. Compelling speech is not honoring diversity; it is dominance. The Supreme Court should firmly uphold Americans’ First Amendment rights and ensure no one is forced or compelled to violate their faith or moral beliefs. We are not China; we value liberty and preserve it with our First Amendment rights”

Lankford and Cruz were joined in the brief by Senators  Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Braun (R-IN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Steve Daines (R-MT), Jim Risch (R-ID), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Thune (R-SD), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Roger Wicker (R-MS). The amicus brief is led in the House of Representatives by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO).

The petitioner, Lorie Smith, runs the website design company 303 Creative and cannot provide custom services for same-sex weddings without violating her Christian faith. Under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA), however, she must not only provide these custom services, but she is also prevented from explaining her disagreement. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that the state can compel Ms. Smith’s creative speech—a decision that is wrong and should be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

This case is a follow-on to Masterpiece Cakeshop, for which Lankford also submitted an amicus brief and celebrated the victory for the case at the Supreme Court in 2018. The case involved the shop’s owner, Jack Phillips, who argued that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated his constitutional rights by acting with hostility to his religious faith.