Graphic artist challenges Colorado law she says forces her to promote same-sex marriage


A Colorado graphic designer who creates custom websites filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday challenging a Colorado law she says forces her to promote same-sex ceremonies against her religious beliefs.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Lorie Smith and her studio, 303 Creative, by Alliance Defending Freedom against members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and Aubrey Elenis, director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

Smith is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions to stop the defendants from enforcing the so-called banned-speech provisions of state civil rights law, which prevents her from promoting marriage between a man and a woman exclusively by forcing her to also create websites for same-sex marriages against her beliefs.


My guess is that the court will not hear the case until the artist’s breaks the law then is charged.

It’s the game they play to delay and force the person into legal expenses that will lead to the person dropping the case.



This looks more like a political gesture (or even a publicity stunt) than anything else.

As far as I can tell from the story, or the copy of the pleading included in the story, no one has actually *asked *the plaintiff to create a website or anything else that violates her principles.

I’m no lawyer, but how has she been damaged?


You are most likely correct. Her case will get dismissed due to lack of standing since she is not directly harmed by the law. Someone would have to ask her to make a website, then she would refuse, and presumably be sued by the person who asked her. Then she could challenge the law and the court would hear the case since she would be suffering direct financial harm.


The concept of standing has been widely criticized. Richard Epstein has a good article from over a decade ago, about the problem with the current doctrine on standing.

From that article (found here, emphasis mine):
At this point what establishes the standing as a general matter? One obvious answer is that the standing requirement is met when it is shown that the plaintiff has suffered “harm,” even if the other elements of the cause of action are not satisfied. For the moment, I shall put aside all the heavy freight that is attached to this term, and content myself with the observation that the Supreme Court has understood the doctrine of standing, and in good tort-like fashion tied the doctrine to the frequent cases where individuals seek redress for personal grievances, usually by invoking principles of corrective justice — that is, those principles, compendiously described that stress the wrong that this defendant has done to that plaintiff. But its effort to locate the doctrine of standing with tort doctrines has led to the fatal mistake in this area, which is to ignore a second class of cases, which commonly were brought in the courts of equity in which a single individual sues not for individual redress, but to preserve the structural limitations found in our or any other constitutional order.

But even so, he his point here:
And last, again in terms that echo the common law requirement for proof of damages, the harm “must be ‘likely,’ as opposed to merely ‘speculative,’ that the injury will be ‘redressed by a favorable decision’.”
One need not be actually damaged, but that damage be likely. I don’t think it unreasonable in this case to think it likely that a graphic artist–or any other artist or vendor–will be charged with refusing to provide services at a gay “wedding”.


And the lawyers get rich whatever happens… or she could simply make a very bad site…


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