WASHINGTON D.C.: In a case that Supreme Court liberal justices said could empower certain businesses to discriminate based on constitutional free speech protections, the court's conservative majority justices indicated that they could rule that a Christian web designer has a right to refuse to provide services for same-sex marriages.
The court has a 6-3 conservative majority.
Arguments were presented by Denver-area business owner Lorie Smith in her appeal seeking an exemption from a Colorado law that bars discrimination based on various factors, such as sexual orientation.
Lower courts ruled in Colorado's favor, but the conservative justices indicated support for Smith's view that businesses offering creative services, such as web design, are protected by the US Constitution's First Amendment guarantee against government abridgment of free speech.
An evangelical Christian, Smith stressed that she believes marriage should be limited to opposite-sex couples. In 2016, she sued Colorado's civil rights commission and other state officials, as she thought she would be punished for refusing to serve gay weddings.
Colorado's Anti-Discrimination Act bars businesses open to the public from denying goods or services to people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and other characteristics.
While the Supreme Court has backed LGBT rights in other cases, such as its landmark 2015 decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide, the Supreme Court has recently become increasingly supportive of religious rights and free speech claims.
The Biden administration has backed Colorado in this case. A ruling is expected by the end of June.