Press Release

Supreme Court protects religious business owner speech Colorado wedding website designer can now operate her business in accordance with her faith

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled today that the government cannot force religious people to choose between their faith or their business. In 303 Creative LLC v Elenis, web designer Lorie Smith challenged a Colorado law that prevented her from expanding her business to create wedding websites in accordance with her Christian beliefs about marriage.

In a 6-3 decision, the Court wrote, “Consistent with the First Amendment, the Nation’s answer is tolerance, not coercion. The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands. Colorado cannot deny that promise consistent with the First Amendment.”

As the owner of 303 Creative, a custom website design business, Smith wanted to expand her operation to include wedding websites. However, Colorado law prevented her from doing so unless she made wedding websites for same-sex couples, violating her Christian beliefs about marriage and forcing her to say something she did not believe.

Becket filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that religious speech, like political speech, is at the core of the freedom of speech and must be protected. The Court’s opinion picked up on this argument, saying that unlike “commercial advertising,” governments cannot compel speech “about a question of political and religious significance.”

“Religion and work are not at odds,” said Eric Rassbach, vice president and senior counsel at Becket. “Yesterday, the Court protected religious workers in secular workplaces, and today the Court protected religious business owners. That is good news for religious Americans of all stripes.”

The ruling corrects a lower court decision that failed to respect speech with “political and religious significance.” Four times, the Court recognized the distinct “significance” of such speech.

“Colorado seems to be a reluctant student when it comes to the First Amendment,” said Rassbach. “How many cases will Colorado have to lose before it stops trying to squelch speech? The Court’s ruling today emphasizes just how quixotic it is to force conformity of thought on Americans.”

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby at or 202-349-7219. Interviews can be arranged in English, Mandarin, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.