The Supreme Court could authorize certain businesses to exclude gay customers
Lorie Smith owns the web design company 303 creative, whose products she refuses to sell to gay clients.
The United States Supreme Court appeared Monday in favor of a website creator who refuses to design sites for same-sex marriages, in the name of her freedom of expression and his Christian faith.
For the first time in its history, the Court could authorize a company to refuse to serve a customer on the basis of race, sex, or religion, noted with emotion Judge Sonia Sotomayor.
With her two progressive colleagues, the magistrate warned during the hearing against such a judgment, which they believed could open the door to discrimination of all kinds.
But the court's six conservative justices seemed more receptive to arguments from Lorie Smith, the boss of Colorado-based company 303 Creative.
“I want to create unique sites to celebrate the beauty of marriage between a man and a woman. [But] Colorado tries to force me to […] promote ideas contrary to my faith. »
— Lori Smith, in a press briefing before the US Supreme Court
This western American state has prohibited merchants from discriminating against their customers based on their sexual orientation since 2008, on pain of a fine.
Ms Smith does not She was not solicited by a gay couple or prosecuted by the authorities, but she filed a complaint against the law as a preventive measure. After losing in an appeals court, she turned to the Supreme Court.
However, this is not the first time that the Supreme Court, which recognized the right to same-sex marriage in 2015, has been called upon to arbitrate between the protection of sexual minorities and the freedoms of expression and religion of Christian merchants.
In 2018, she agreed with a Christian pastry chef who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. But it had based its decision on additional reasons without enacting general principles.
Since then, two new judges, appointed by Donald Trump, have consolidated his conservative majority, and the Court could issue a judgment with broader scope by June 30.
The White House called on the court to exercise restraint. There is no reason to change the current balance, his spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told a press briefing.
The Democratic administration believes that all Americans have the right to equal access to society, which includes products and services for sale in the country, she added.
During the hearing, Lorie Smith's lawyer argued that it was not about homophobic discrimination, but about defending the freedom of expression of x27;an artist.
Ms. Smith has LGBT clients, argued Kristen Waggoner, also president of the Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom. But she doesn't want to be forced to send a message contrary to her values.
Protesters spoke out against anti-LGBTQ discrimination in front of the Supreme Court during hearings on Monday.
The law is not about the content of the products, but requires them to be offered to all customers, retorted Colorado attorney Eric Olson.
According to him, Mrs. Smith could very well decorate her websites with biblical messages about marriage between a man and a woman, but cannot refuse to sell them to homosexual couples. Similarly, a store can only sell Christmas decorations, but cannot refuse Jewish customers, he explained.
However, several conservative judges have defended the point Mrs. Smith's view.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett noted that Ms. Smith could refuse to produce marriage sites for heterosexuals who are divorced or have committed adultery. It's the message, not the couple's sexual orientation, that counts, she said.
Her colleague Samuel Alito for his part defended the honorable people who oppose same-sex marriage, and refused to compare them to those who in the past opposed marriage between black and white Americans.
Historically, opposition to interracial marriages and integration have often been justified on religious grounds, African-American Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson countered.
She went on to ask if a mall photographer, intent on recreating the 50s vibe, could be allowed to refuse to sit black children on Santa's lap.
What if someone thinks people with disabilities shouldn't get married? Where is the limit?, added Sonia Sotomayor.
Hairdressers, gardeners, plumbers […] cannot invoke the First Amendment to decline same-sex marriages , but it's different for artists, replied, conciliatory, the conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh.
According to him, the Court could therefore be content to answer a limited question : Are Site Designers Like Restaurateurs or Editors?