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Case Digest on 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis

The government cannot compel individuals to create expressive content or speech that goes against their sincerely held beliefs.

This ruling on 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis in 2023 is the new armor of creative designers in relation to their freedom of expression. Check out this two-minute case digest by Audio Law Reader.🎧📚



Lorie Smith, owner of 303 Creative LLC, wanted to expand her graphic design business to include services for couples seeking wedding websites. However, she was concerned that Colorado would use the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) to compel her to create websites celebrating same-sex marriages that went against her belief that marriage should be reserved for unions between one man and one woman.

For context, CADA prohibits all "public accommodations" from denying the full and equal enjoyment of their goods and services to customers based on factors such as race, creed, disability, sexual orientation, or other statutorily enumerated traits.

With the mentioned concerns, Ms. Smith filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to prevent the state from forcing her to create websites that conflicted with her beliefs.


Whether Colorado can compel a website designer to create expressive designs that convey messages with which she disagrees


No, Colorado cannot compel a website designer to create expressive designs that convey messages with which they disagree.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Lorie Smith, holding that the First Amendment prohibits Colorado from forcing a website designer to create expressive designs that convey messages with which she disagrees.

The Court determined that Ms. Smith's wedding websites qualified as pure speech protected by the First Amendment. Colorado's attempt to compel Ms. Smith to create websites celebrating marriages that contradicted her beliefs was deemed an impermissible abridgement of her right to free speech.

The Court argued that public accommodations laws, while important, could not be used to compel speech when it conflicted with a person's sincerely held beliefs.

In the end, the Court stressed the importance of tolerance and the free exchange of ideas, concluding that the First Amendment envisioned a nation where individuals are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands.


The case underscores the need to balance anti-discrimination laws, which aim to prevent discrimination in public accommodations, with the protection of free speech. Courts may need to carefully consider cases where there is a conflict between anti-discrimination statutes and the First Amendment, particularly when speech is involved.