The 6-3 ruling in favour of Lorie Smith is ikely to have a wide impact, making it easier for business owners to discriminate against LGBTQ customers or other groups where they are assumed to have the same entitlement to expressive speech as Smith has as a designer.
Colorado argued that its anti-discrimination law did not infringe upon Smith’s first amendment rights because, while it prevented her from refusing service to same-sex couples, it allowed her to express her views against same-sex marriage. The state also pointed out that the case was hypothetical, and that it appeared no same-sex ccouples had actually asked Smith to create a website for them.
The ruling came days after news outlets discovered
that part of the case’s foundation appeared to be false. In her lawsuit, Smith cited a request from a gay man for help in designing a website for his wedding to a man named Mike. However, the man whose name, telephone number and email address matched those listed on the request told news outlets that he had never contacted Smith, and that he had been married to a woman for 15 years.
In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor described the Supreme Court’s decision as ‘profoundly wrong’. “Today, the Court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class,” Sotomayor wrote. “Our Constitution contains no right to refuse service to a disfavoured group.”