Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett — a devout Catholic — is facing calls to recuse herself from an upcoming case on free speech and LGBT issue.
Former members of the small Christian group Barrett is reportedly affiliated with, People of Praise, are demanding the justice step back from 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, a case centering on graphic designer Lorie Smith, who wants to expand her business to include wedding websites but, because of her faith, opposes same-sex weddings and wants to create a space on her own site explaining her opposition to same-sex marriage.
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The high court justices will determine whether the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, which blocks businesses open to the public from discriminating in an number of ways, including potential customers’ sexual orientations, violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Smith, for her part, argues she has worked with LGBT-identified clients on a host of different projects that do not compete with her religious convictions.
“A win for Lori would not only be a win for her, it would also be a win for the LGBT graphic designer who doesn’t want to be forced to create art and promote messages that they disagree with,” said Kristin Waggoner, an Alliance Defending Freedom attorney representing Smith.
Former members of the People of Praise group spoke recently with The Guardian, telling the outlet Barrett cannot be an objective party in this case and needs to remove herself from the deliberations.
“The People of Praise has deeply entrenched, anti-gay values that negatively affect the lives of real people, including vulnerable youth,” said Kevin Connolly, a former member of the group. “These values show up in the everyday policies of the People of Praise and their schools. They are policies that are way outside the mainstream, and most Americans would be disturbed by them.”
During a hearing for Barrett in the U.S. Senate in 2017, the then-judge faced a litany of faith-oriented questions and claims from Democrats, one of the most prominent coming from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who told Barrett, “The dogma lives loudly with in you, and that’s a concern.”
Like the claims made today, Feinstein was seemingly suggesting Barrett’s faith makes it impossible for her to be an impartial judge in a Supreme Court case.
Legal experts believe it’s very unlikely Barrett will recuse herself from the upcoming case.
“Supreme Court justices have views and are connected with a lot of organizations, a lot of groups just in general, and that’s not enough,” Jonathan Entin, a constitutional law professor at Case Western University, told the Washington Examiner.
Paul Collins, a legal studies professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst, echoed Entin’s words, telling Newsweek, “There is essentially no chance Justice Barrett will recuse herself from the case based on the calls from former People of Praise members to do so.”
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