The White House admitted Monday that the Biden administration believes the government should be allowed to compel businesses to express speech they disagree with.
At the White House press briefing, a reporter asked press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, the case that the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for on Monday. The case centers on whether public accommodation laws that compel artists to violate their religious beliefs violate the First Amendment.
At first, Jean-Pierre claimed the Biden administration supports both free speech and anti-discrimination. But she followed up by endorsing government-forced speech.
“The administration believes that every person — no matter their sex, race, religion, or who they love — should have the equal access to society, including access to products and services on the same terms as other members of public,” she said.
Then, noting that the Justice Department believes “non-discrimination public accommodations laws have coexisted with the First Amendment,” she claimed, “We can require businesses open to public to service people, regardless of their backgrounds, even when that means businesses must incidentally engage in speech which they disagree upon.”
Jean-Pierre added that there “is no reason to upend this balance right now.”
12/05/22: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierreyoutu.be
The final remark suggests the Biden administration wants the Supreme Court to rule against the Colorado website developer who is seeking the protection of her religious expression under the First Amendment.
But the truth is that, in Colorado at least, there is no balance between public accommodation laws and First Amendment protections.
This is the second case on the issue from Colorado to make it to the Supreme Court. In the first case, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of cake baker Jack Phillips. The ruling, however, was narrow and did not directly address the broader questions related to public accommodation laws. The case now before the court will (probably) finally provide an answer.
At any rate, the First Amendment’s free exercise and establishment clauses generally protect Americans from government interference in their expressions of religious freedom. The Supreme Court permits only narrow exceptions.
And if oral arguments on Monday are any indication of how the court will rule in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, Colorado’s public accommodations law and others like it do not make the cut.