‘Heartbreaking’: Justice Sotomayor cites rise in LGTBQ+ discrimination in dissent to SCOTUS ruling

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Justice Sonia Sotomayor accused the U.S. Supreme Court of granting businesses the right “to refuse to serve members of a protected class” for the first time in its history.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 on Friday in favor of a evangelical Christian website designer who argued that a Colorado anti-discrimination law violated her First Amendment right to refuse to create websites for same-sex weddings.

Sotomayor noted a nationwide rise in anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination and called it “heartbreaking.”

“Sadly, it is also familiar,” she wrote in her dissent. “When the civil rights and women’s rights movements sought equality in public life, some public establishments refused. Some even claimed, based on sincere religious beliefs, constitutional rights to discriminate. The brave Justices who once sat on this Court decisively rejected those claims.”

Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson joined the dissent.

The Supreme Court on Friday ruled in favor of the evangelical Christian businesswoman in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, a case involving whether creative businesses can refuse to serve LGBTQ+ customers because of First Amendment free speech rights.

The Court holds that the company has a right to post a notice that says, “‘no [wedding websites] will be sold if they will be used for gay marriages.”

The dissenting justices say the Constitution contains “no right to refuse service to a disfavored group” and argued that the decision could open the door for discrimination.

“The decision threatens to balkanize the market and to allow the exclusion of other groups from many services,” the dissent reads. “A website designer could equally refuse to create a wedding website for an interracial couple, for example.”

Sotomayor acknowledged the growing anti-LGBTQ+ political backlash nationwide, which has lead to threats and violence against the queer community.

“Around the country, there has been a backlash to the movement for liberty and equality for gender and sexual minorities,” Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. “New forms of inclusion have been met with reactionary exclusion.”

Sotomayor wrote, “The law in question targets conduct, not speech, for regulation, and the act of discrimination has never constituted protected expression under the First Amendment.”

President Joe Biden also criticized the decision in a statement, arguing that “no person should face discrimination simply because of who they are or who they love” in America.

“The Supreme Court’s disappointing decision in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis undermines that basic truth, and painfully it comes during Pride month when millions of Americans across the country join together to celebrate the contributions, resilience, and strength of the LGBTQI+ community,” Biden wrote.

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