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303 Creative v. Elenis

Description:  Lorie Smith is an artist who runs her own design studio, 303 Creative. She specializes in graphic and website design and loves to visually convey messages in every site she creates. She left the corporate design world to start her own small business in 2012 so she could use her skills to promote causes consistent with her beliefs and close to her heart, such as supporting children with disabilities, the beauty of marriage, overseas missions, animal shelters, and veterans. She was excited to expand her portfolio to create websites that celebrate marriage between a man and a woman, but Colorado made clear she’s not welcome in that space. A Colorado law is censoring what she wants to say and requiring her to create designs that violate her beliefs about marriage. She enjoys working with people from all walks of life, but, like most artists, can’t promote every message. Her decisions about which projects to design are based on what message she’s being asked to express, not who requests it. After realizing that Colorado was censoring her and after seeing Colorado use this same law to punish Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, she challenged the law to protect her freedom and her art studio.

Friday, Dec 2, 2022

WHO:  ADF CEO and lead counsel Kristen Waggoner, graphic artist Lorie Smith

WHAT:  Press conference following oral arguments in 303 Creative v. Elenis

WHEN:  Immediately following oral arguments, which begin at 10 a.m. EST, Monday, Dec. 5

WHERE:  Outside U.S. Supreme Court, 1 First St. NE, Washington, or watch livestream. To schedule an interview, contact ADF Media Relations Manager AnnMarie Pariseau at (480) 417-3975.

WASHINGTON – Denver-area graphic artist and website designer Lorie Smith and Alliance Defending Freedom CEO, President, and General Counsel Kristen Waggoner, who will argue before the U.S. Supreme Court on Smith’s behalf in 303 Creative v. Elenis on Monday, will speak at a press conference outside the court immediately following oral arguments.

The case concerns a Colorado law that requires Smith to communicate messages inconsistent with her beliefs. Even though Colorado officials have admitted that she works with people from all walks of life, including those who identify as LGBT, that she chooses what to create based on the message requested, and that every website she creates conveys a unique message, the state still says it can force her to speak messages about marriage that contradict her core beliefs.

“Free speech is for everyone. No one should be forced to say something they don’t believe,” said Waggoner. “And Lorie works with everyone. Whether she custom-designs a website or graphic always turns on what the message is, not who is requesting it. Like most graphic designers, every word she writes, every graphic she designs, and every custom website she crafts expresses a unique message—one that must be consistent with her beliefs, areas of passion, and personal expertise. Americans should be free to express their ideas even if the government disagrees with them. That’s true for Lorie just as much as the LGBT graphic designer, which is why a win for Lorie is a win for all Americans.”

The Supreme Court agreed to take Smith’s case after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit issued a 2–1 decision holding that Colorado can compel her to create messages about marriage that violate her sincere beliefs even though her designs are, as the 10th Circuit admitted, “pure speech” and Colorado’s purpose is to completely “[e]liminate [her] ideas” from the public dialogue. The dissent called such compulsion an “existential threat” to freedom and the majority’s opinion “staggering” and “unprecedented” because the “Constitution protects Ms. Smith from the government telling her what to say….”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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Previous News Releases

Legal Documents

Merits amicus briefs filed in support of free speech: See briefs filed 5/26/2022 to 6/2/2022
Amicus briefs filed in support of granting certiorari: See briefs filed 10/22/2021 to 10/29/2021

Related Resources

Resource page: Freedom of conscience

ABOUT Kristen Waggoner

As the CEO, president, and general counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom, Kristen Waggoner leads the faith-based legal organization in protecting fundamental freedoms and promoting the inherent dignity of all people throughout the U.S. and around the world. Waggoner oversees the efforts of more than 400 ADF team members in seven global offices as well as 4,500 network attorneys engaged in litigation, legislation, training, funding, and public advocacy. ADF also provides legal counsel to over 3,500 churches and ministries through its Ministry Alliance program and defends the persecuted church in dozens of countries. Since 2011, ADF has won 14 cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, including serving on Mississippi’s legal team in the case that overturned Roe v. Wade. Waggoner successfully argued two of those cases, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission and Uzuebgunam v. Presczewski and will argue her third case before the Supreme Court in the fall of 2022. She is a Peer Review Rated AV® Preeminent™ attorney in Martindale-Hubbell, who clerked for Justice Richard B. Sanders of the Washington Supreme Court after law school and served in private practice in Seattle for nearly 20 years.

ABOUT Kate Anderson

Kate Anderson serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where she is the director of the Center for Parental Rights. Since joining ADF in 2015, Anderson has focused on protecting the conscience rights of individuals being unjustly compelled to forfeit their beliefs under threat of government retaliation, heavy fines, or other punishment. Prior to joining ADF, Anderson was an associate attorney with Ellis, Li & McKinstry, PLLC, in Seattle, where she litigated both civil and criminal cases. She obtained her law degree magna cum laude in 2009 from Gonzaga University School of Law, where she served on the Gonzaga Law Review. She is admitted to the state bars of Arizona and Washington, the U.S. Supreme Court, and several federal district and appellate courts.

ABOUT Jonathan Scruggs

Jonathan Scruggs serves as senior counsel and vice president of litigation strategy and the Center for Conscience Initiatives with Alliance Defending Freedom. In this role, he identifies new litigation opportunities and develops new strategies for protecting free speech and religious liberty in collaboration with the chief legal counsel and litigation team directors. As the leader for the Center for Conscience Initiatives, Scruggs oversees the litigation team defending the rights of professionals and business owners to live out their faith as well as the litigation efforts to protect equal opportunities for women in athletics. Since joining ADF in 2006, Scruggs has worked on and prevailed in a variety of cases that protect the right of people to freely express their faith in their business, at school, and in the public square. He earned his J.D. at Harvard Law School and is admitted to practice in the states of Arizona and Tennessee. Scruggs is also admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court and multiple federal district and appellate courts.

ABOUT John Bursch

John Bursch is senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy with Alliance Defending Freedom. Bursch has argued 12 U.S. Supreme Court cases and more than 30 state supreme court cases since 2011, and a recent study concluded that among all frequent Supreme Court advocates who did not work for the federal government, he had the 3rd highest success rate for persuading justices to adopt his legal position. Bursch served as solicitor general for the state of Michigan from 2011-2013. He has argued multiple Michigan Supreme Court cases in eight of the last ten terms and has successfully litigated hundreds of matters nationwide, including six with at least $1 billion at stake. As part of his private firm, Bursch Law PLLC, he has represented Fortune 500 companies, foreign and domestic governments, top public officials, and industry associations in high-profile cases, primarily on appeal. He received his J.D. magna cum laude in 1997 from the University of Minnesota Law School and is admitted to practice in numerous federal district and appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.