The Supreme Court announced last week that it will hear a case involving a Christian website designer who sued Colorado over an anti-discrimination law that could force her to violate her religious beliefs.

The law in question is the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, which is the same ordinance that was used by Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission in 2018 to punish baker Jack Phillips after he refused to create a cake in celebration of a same-sex marriage. 

Like website designer Lorie Smith, Phillips took Colorado all the way to the Supreme Court. He won his case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, but only on the ground that the Civil Rights Commission exhibited extreme anti-religious bias towards him. The foundational question of Phillips’s case — whether Colorado had the right to use the Anti-Discrimination Act to compel him to convey a message that violated his religious beliefs — was not addressed.

As a result, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act still poses a threat to religious creatives in the state, including Phillips, who was dragged to court for the third time last year after a leftist activist sued him for declining to bake a cake celebrating a transgender transition. That’s why Smith, the plaintiff in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, filed a preemptive lawsuit against the state. She argues that her right to run her business according to her sincerely held religious beliefs is threatened by a fear of retaliation or punishment. 

She has every reason to expect the worst from government officials. Phillips is not the only religious creative who has suffered serious legal and financial consequences for standing up for his beliefs and against coercive laws masquerading as anti-discrimination protections. Photographers Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin in New Mexico were forced to watch their business run into the ground after they declined to photograph a same-sex wedding. Washington florist Barronelle Stutzman was told to sell her floral shop or risk losing all of her personal property because she declined to create a floral arrangement in celebration of a same-sex wedding.

To make matters  worse, the very premise of the case against these religious creatives is a lie. In each case, state officials claimed that Phillips, Stutzman, and the Huguenins deliberately discriminated against patrons because of their sexual orientation, but that’s not true. Philips wasn’t demanding to know the sexual orientation of each of his customers before agreeing to serve them. Stutzman had gladly served the same-sex couple that sued her for years. The only thing that these creatives objected to was creating custom art in celebration of a message that they cannot condone.

With 303 Creative, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to stand up for the rights of these religious creatives and make it clear that they cannot be forced to use their talents and resources to promote messages that violate their convictions. Smith has the right to choose not to create a website promoting a same-sex wedding for the same reason that an LGBT website designer has the right to choose not to create a website advocating against same-sex marriage. 

Free speech applies to everyone, and the government does not get to infringe on that right — no matter how just it thinks its cause might be.