Two Christian filmmakers are asking a federal appeals court to reinstate their lawsuit and prevent the government from controlling their stories.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys representing a pair of Minnesota filmmakers filed their opening brief on appeal Friday in a lawsuit (Telescope Media Group v. Lindsey) challenging a state law that allows the government to control the stories they tell (see video below). The law allows Minnesota to punish Carl and Angel Larsen (pictured right) with fines and jail time if they create wedding films consistent with their faith while declining to create wedding films promoting contrary views.
"We filed an appeal brief at the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of our clients, asking the 8th Circuit ... to reinstate their lawsuit and to instruct the lower occur to issue an injunction in their favor," explains ADF attorney Jeremy Tedesco. "... Not only did [the lower court] disagree with our claims in the case, but it threw the case out – so we're asking the 8th Circuit to change that."
The attorney adds: "The state doesn't have any interest whatsoever in threatening filmmakers with fines and even jail time simply because they declined to create films that violate their beliefs."
The issue is similar to that of another ADF case, this one involving Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop near Denver, Colorado.
"The Masterpiece case will be decided by the United States Supreme Court this year – and that certainly could have an impact on how Carl and Angel's case plays out," Tedesco states.
"We see this problem across the country. Jack's case, of course, is in Colorado, and it's gone all the way up to the Supreme Court; but we've had cases in Arizona, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, all asking the same basic question: Does the state really have the power to force people to promote ideas, through their speech [or] through their expression, that they disagree with?"
On that note, Tedesco says the case law and legal principles are very clear.
"The First Amendment doesn't allow the government to co-opt a private person's speech and force them to say things that they disagree with or object to," he explains, "but the states are saying they have that power and some courts are saying they have that power – and we're trying to make sure that that principle stays strong in our law."