The U.S. Supreme Court delivered evidence to the American people Monday that they should fear their own government.
That’s according to the Alliance Defending Freedom, which fought all the way to the highest court to protect a New Mexico photographer’s freedoms of speech, conscience and religion.
Ultimately, however, the life-tenured justices refused to hear the case, allowing to stand a decision that effectively allows government to force individuals to promote messages they oppose, ADF said.
“Only unjust laws separate what people say from what they believe,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. “The First Amendment protects our freedom to speak or not speak on any issue without fear of punishment.”
The dispute arose after photographer Elaine Huguenin declined a job to commemorate the same-sex union of two lesbians.
The women filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, which charged Huguenin and her business partner, husband Jon, with violating the state’s “sexual orientation” law. The commission ordered the Huguenins to pay more than $6,000 in attorney fees to the couple, even though the two women found someone else to photograph their ceremony. A New Mexico trial court, the New Mexico Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court upheld the ruling.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme court allowed the decision to stand.
Lorence said ADF had hoped the Supreme Court “would use this case to affirm this basic constitutional principle; however, the court will likely have several more opportunities to do just that in other cases of ours that are working their way through the court system.”
ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman said Americans “oppose unjust laws that strong-arm citizens to express ideas against their will.”
“Elaine and numerous others like her around the country have been more than willing to serve any and all customers, but they are not willing to promote any and all messages,” he said. “A government that forces any American to create a message contrary to her own convictions is a government every American should fear.”
ADF said that while the punishment handed out in the New Mexico case is now permanent, there are other cases that likely will push the justices into making determinations on what the government can force Christians to say or do.
According to ADF, other cases in the legal pipeline that could reach the U.S. Supreme Court include:
Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers: A long-time customer and friend of florist Baronelle Stutzman sued her because she could not in good conscience use her creative skills to beautify his same-sex ceremony. Both he, through his ACLU attorneys, and the Washington state attorney general have filed lawsuits against Stutzman in both her professional and personal capacities for unlawful “discrimination,” even though she has served and employed people who identify as homosexual and numerous other florists are willing to do the work.
Craig v. Masterpiece Cakeshop: Two men filed a legal complaint against Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips after he declined to use his artistic talents to create and decorate a cake for a same-sex ceremony. Although many other cake artists are willing to do the work, and Phillips told the men that he would be willing to make them any other type of baked good, the men nonetheless filed discrimination complaints against him through their ACLU attorneys.
Baker v. Hands On Originals: The Gay and Lesbian Services Organization filed a legal complaint against a Kentucky T-shirt printer for declining to produce shirts that promote its “pride festival.” Managing owner Blaine Adamson of Hands On Originals told GLSO he would gladly refer them to another shop that would do the work for the same price. GLSO easily found someone to produce the shirts for free. In addition, Hands On Originals both serves and employs people who identify as homosexual. Nonetheless, the complaint alleges that the printer is guilty of “discrimination.”
The New Mexico case began in 2006 when Elaine Huguenin received an email from a woman, Vanessa Willock, asking if she would be “open to helping us celebrate our day,” a “commitment ceremony” between her and her same-sex partner.
When Huguenin politely declined because the ceremony was at odds with her beliefs, ADF said, Willock found another photographer, for less money.
Nevertheless, Willock pursued a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, demanding Huguenin be punished.
The commission ruled against Huguenin, ordering her to pay $6,637.94 in attorneys’ fees to Willock. The case then made its way through the New Mexico state court system, and the New Mexico Supreme Court upheld the ruling.
One of the state Supreme Court justices said that being ordered to compromise one’s beliefs is simply the “price of citizenship.”
WND reported when the state court, including judges Edward Chavez, Petra Jimenez Maes, Charles Daniels, Barbara Vigil and Richard Bosson, ruled against the photographer, because she has the option of going out of business.
The judges stated:
At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others. A multicultural, pluralistic society, one of our nation’s strengths, demands no less. The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish; they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life.
In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.