Attorney General Paxton joined a Kentucky-led amicus brief before the Cincinnati-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to defend religious liberty and to push back on a local government’s attempt to compel speech.
Under Louisville’s public-accommodation ordinance, a place of public accommodation cannot deny individuals the “full and equal enjoyment” of its goods or services based on, among other things, sexual orientation. Chelsey Nelson, a local Christian photographer, sued Louisville to block the city from enforcing the law against her and forcing her to violate her deeply held religious views. As a Christian, Nelson’s faith shapes her work, and she views her photography as a way to celebrate the biblical union of marriage as between one man and one woman. Given that, she cannot in good conscience photograph a wedding that would be contrary to her religious beliefs.
The coalition of states argue that the court must affirm Nelson’s fundamental rights, particularly under the Free Speech Clause and Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), which supersede Louisville’s public-accommodation law.
The amicus brief states: “Forcing Nelson to create custom speech for a same-sex wedding when she objects to the message that speech conveys is compelled speech, which violates the Free Speech Clause. And forcing her to do the same in violation of her sincerely held religious beliefs without the City adequately showing why it cannot accommodate her violates Kentucky’s RFRA. So Louisville’s attempt to prevent discrimination here must yield to Nelson’s rights.”
To read the full amicus brief, click here.