Fight, lose, fight: CO artist following in Phillips' footsteps

Friday, January 24, 2020
Chris Woodward, Billy Davis (

gavel with U.S. flagA web designer is continuing her challenge to Colorado's public accommodation law, this time by asking a federal appeals court to defend her First Amendment right to share her personal beliefs on her own website.

Lorie Smith, who owns 303 Creative, has lost so far in her legal fight to overturn the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, the same state law that was used to punish Jack Phillips and his business, Masterpiece Cake Shop.

Smith is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed a brief this week with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to ask for the business owner’s right to create content that aligns with her own personal beliefs. That legal argument from ADF – turning down a customer’s request is not turning away the customer – has been a consistent theme of Phillips’ legal fight, since he has refused, for example, to create a bawdy cake for a bachelorette party.

Blaine Adamson, the Kentucky print shop owner, was similarly sued after he refused to fulfill an order for t-shirts celebrating a gay pride event. In his court fight, the business owner cited other orders he has turned down, too, such as t-shirts promoting a strip club.

Hence the court appeal filed by ADF begins:

The government should never force a Muslim artist to photograph pornography, a gay designer to create a website promoting one-man, onewoman marriage, or a Jewish PR professional to craft anti-Israel propaganda. Plaintiff-Appellant Lorie Smith seeks the same freedom here.

On the 303 Creative website, Smith’s work examples include an Easter service flyer, a church banner, and a poster advertising Jewish-related businesses.

Masterpiece Cakeshop (entrance)The artist-owner also states on the website that she uses her talent to honor God and therefore she is “selective” about the messages she creates.

“…while I will serve anyone,” she writes, “I am always careful to avoid communicating ideas or messages, or promoting events, products, services, or organizations, that are inconsistent with my religious beliefs.”

“Lorie selectively accepts projects, not clients,” the ADF brief states.

Colorado versus 'editorial freedom'

According to ADF, its 10th Circuit appeal is also asking court to reverse a portion of the Colorado state law that forbids Smith for posting that statement on her own website, which is described as an “attack on Lorie’s faith and editorial freedom” in the legal brief.

ADF attorney Jake Warner tells OneNewsNow that Smith witnessed Phillips’ legal fight against his own state government in 2016 and took action, working with ADF to file a pre-enforcement challenge.

"Lorie kind of saw the threat on the horizon,” Warner says, “and decided to try to figure out her constitutional rights before the state came after her.”



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