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1A Remaking America: The Supreme Court, the First Amendment, and LGBTQ rights

Television news crews report from outside the U.S. Supreme Court on the last day of its term in Washington, DC.
Television news crews report from outside the U.S. Supreme Court on the last day of its term in Washington, DC.

More than 20 states across the country have public accommodation laws to prevent businesses from discriminating against customers based on things like race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.

But a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision could put these protections at risk. 

Lorie Smith, the plaintiff in303 Creative v. Elenis,wanted to expand her graphic design business in Littleton, Colorado. But she said she would refuse to design a page for a same-sex couple’s wedding if asked. She worried that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act would force her to do so.

Last month, in a 6-to-3 decision, the court ruled in Smith’s favor, saying that it would be unconstitutional under the First Amendment for her to have to create a message she opposes – in this case, a wedding website for a same-sex couple. 

The case raises big questions about what counts as creative speech under the First Amendment and also about questions about the fate of anti-discrimination protections across the country.

We unpack the implications of the Supreme Court decision with legal and First Amendment scholars. We also hear from the mayor of Louisville, Kentucky. The city has had a fairness ordinance protecting LGBTQ people since 1999. 

This show is part of ourRemaking America collaboration with six public radio stations around the country, including WFPL in Louisville. Remaking America is funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2023 WAMU 88.5

Anna Casey