The White House said that the Biden administration thinks the government should be permitted to compel corporations to convey views with which they disapprove.
A reporter at the White House news conference asked media secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, which is the case that the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for. The dispute is about whether regulations requiring artists to violate their religious views violate the First Amendment.
Jean-Pierre first argued that the Biden administration supported both free expression and anti-discrimination. She then went on to endorse government-mandated speech.
“The government believes that every individual, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, or who they love,” she continued, “should have equal access to society, including access to services and products on the same grounds as other members of the public.”
Then, citing the Justice Department’s belief that “non-discrimination public accommodation laws have coexisted with the 1st Amendment,” she asserted, “We can require companies open to the public to service people, no matter what their backgrounds are, even if that means businesses have to engage in speech with which they disagree.”
“There is no need to upset this equilibrium right now,” Jean-Pierre continued.
The final statement implies that the Biden administration wants the Supreme Court to rule against the Colorado website developer who is seeking First Amendment protection for her religious expression.
However, there is no balance between public accommodation regulations and First Amendment safeguards in Colorado, at least.
This is the second lawsuit from Colorado to reach the Supreme Court on the matter. The Supreme Court voted 7-2 in favor of cake maker Jack Phillips in the first case. However, the judgement was restricted and did not directly address the wider issues surrounding public accommodation regulations. The current case before the court will probably give an answer.
In any case, the First Amendment’s free exercise and establishment provisions typically protect Americans from government intervention in their religious freedom expressions. Only narrow exceptions are permitted by the Supreme Court.
If the court’s decision in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis is any indicator, Colorado’s public accommodations legislation and others like it will be struck down.