Attorney General Ken Paxton and 13 other states filed a friend-of-the-court brief today defense of religious liberty after a Colorado district court determined that privately owned businesses can be fined for declining to provide services that violate their religious beliefs. The U.S. Constitution prohibits governments from forcing individuals to violate their religious beliefs.
Colorado currently has an unconstitutional law barring any place of public accommodation from refusing services because of sexual orientation or publishing notice of intent to refuse services because of sexual orientation, which directly violates the First Amendment. In this case, Lorie Smith, the owner and sole employee of 303 Creative LLC, which provides custom graphic and website design services, challenged the law prohibiting her from refusing to create custom websites that violate her religious beliefs.
“The State of Colorado has repeatedly persecuted people of faith who wish only to conduct their business in line with their sincerely-held beliefs. Ms. Smith has not committed any illegal act, and the district court’s decision should be immediately reversed,” said Attorney General Paxton. “The Constitution requires the government to respect the religious beliefs of its citizens, but the rigid secular orthodoxy of the Colorado elites has been allowed to trample on this specifically protected freedom and destroy people’s livelihood. Religious persecution of innocent people must end.”
This case is strikingly similar to that of Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, who faced charges for refusing to create a custom cake that violated his religious beliefs. The U.S. Supreme Court resoundingly ruled in Mr. Phillips’ favor and pointed out that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had disparaged Phillips’ religious beliefs.
To view a copy of the amicus brief, click here.
Also, to hear details of similar cases that are centered around this fundamental right, listen to Religious Liberty | Episode 1 of the Law & Liberty: A Texas Attorney General Podcast, here.