For Immediate Release
Contact: Nicole Carr, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-238-9088 (ext: 1660)
(Washington, DC, June 30, 2023) The American Humanist Association (AHA) strongly condemns today’s decision by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis which, in the words of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, for the first time in the Court’s history “grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class.”
SCOTUS wrapped up the final day of this year’s appalling term with a monumental civil rights decision allowing discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people. In 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, the Court ruled in favor of Christian wedding website designer Lorie Smith, whose pre-emptive refusal to design websites for possible future same-sex wedding clients sparked a challenge on first amendment grounds. “As surely as Ms. Smith seeks to engage in protected First Amendment speech,” Gorsuch writes, “Colorado seeks to compel speech Ms. Smith does not wish to provide.”
AHA Board President Sunil Panikkath said, “The selective reading of American history and jurisprudence used by the reactionary members of this Supreme Court to justify 303 Creative and other regressive decisions announced this term poses a grave danger to equal rights under the law and therefore to real democracy in our republic.”
Government compelled speech is anathema to this country’s commitment to a free and open society. By putting Smith in the same class as artists and writers, the Court blurs the line between ordinary goods and services, which should remain subject to public accommodation laws, and creative and expressive pursuits, which should only be limited by the creator’s imagination. AHA Senior Counsel Katie McKerall said, “Without a clear line between the two, any business with a creative or expressive component may claim the right to discriminate based not only on a potential customer’s protected class, but on any aspect of that person the business dislikes, be it race, religion, or favorite football team.”
Putting this year’s entire SCOTUS term in context, AHA Legal and Policy Director Lily Bolourian stated, “Absolutely no one should be shocked by this Court’s blatant actions to dismantle long-established precedent and meticulously strip us of the human rights we fought so hard for and hold so dear. The out-of-control bolstering of religious privilege and corporate favoritism over equal rights, civil liberties, health, racial justice, and environmental concerns plainly proves that this Court is determined to challenge the separation of church and state and attack democracy.”
The American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming worldview of humanism, which—without beliefs in gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.