Freedom Of Expression In Web Design
The right to freedom of expression was at issue before the Supreme Court in the case of 303 Creative LLC et al. v. Elenis et al. The graphic design business 303 Creative LLC filed a lawsuit against Colorado: The case sought an injunction against a Colorado public accommodation anti-discrimination law. Under Colorado law, the business would be penalized if it refused to produce website designs depicting same-sex weddings.
The owner of 303 Creative LLC held sincere religious beliefs that marriage should be between one man and one woman. The business alleged that the Colorado anti-discrimination law violated its freedom of expression rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: This was because the company was effectively compelled under threat of legal penalty to create websites with messages that the business owner disagreed with.
The Court Decision
A majority of the United States Supreme Court justices found that the Colorado law violated the business' constitutional right to freedom of expression. The majority held that the creation of websites is a form of expression protected by the First Amendment. The state can't compel a business through threat of legal penalty to create an expression, in this case a website depicting same-sex weddings, that the business had an objection to.
The three dissenting justices argued that the majority was ignoring clear Supreme Court precedent, making a grave error, and that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution did not entitle 303 Creative LLC to a special exemption from a state law that requires the business to serve all members of the public on equal terms. The dissent argued that the majority's decision was the first in Court history to grant a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class.