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Dem attorney general promises to defy landmark Supreme Court ruling — but the facts dismantle her narrative
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Dem attorney general promises to defy landmark Supreme Court ruling — but the facts dismantle her narrative

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes (D) is openly defying a recent Supreme Court ruling.

After the Supreme Court ruled that Colorado cannot compel business owners to make expressive speech that violates their religious beliefs, Mayes issued a statement saying Arizona's public accommodation law, which is similar to Colorado's, will still be enforced.

"[A] woefully misguided majority of the United States Supreme Court has decided that businesses open to the public may, in certain circumstances, discriminate against LGBTQ+ Americans," Mayes said.

On that basis, Mayes declared, "I will continue to enforce Arizona’s public accommodation law to its fullest extent."

"Arizona law prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation, including discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity," she explained. "If any Arizonan believes that they have been the victim of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), national origin, or ancestry in a place of public accommodation, they should file a complaint with my office."

Mayes, moreover, expressed agreement with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote the dissent in the case, that it is "profoundly wrong" to suggest "the Constitution gives businesses the right to discriminate."

In the dissent, Sotomayor claimed, "Today, the Court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class."

The problem — both with Sotomayor's dissent and Mayes' framing of the ruling — is that the Supreme Court did not write anyone a license to discriminate.

The stipulations in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis — facts that both sides agree to —dismantle this narrative. The stipulations included the agreed facts that:

  1. Smith is "willing to work with all people regardless of classifications such as race, creed, sexual orientation, and gender" and she "will gladly create custom graphics and websites" for LGBTQ clients
  2. Smith's designs are "expressive" in nature. With regard to wedding websites, this means the designs express her "message celebrating and promoting" her view of marriage, which is grounded in "biblical truth"

Based upon those stipulations, the Supreme Court ruled that "the First Amendment prohibits Colorado from forcing a website designer to create expressive designs speaking messages with which the designer disagrees."

Thus Mayes is essentially spreading disinformation about the ruling as she boasts about ignoring it.

The Supreme Court said nothing about permissible discrimination. What it did say is that governments cannot discriminate against closely held personal beliefs by forcing citizens to make and promote expressive speech they disagree with.

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