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The Arizona Supreme Court Strikes a Powerful Blow for Free Speech and Religious Freedom

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16.09.2019

Free speech and religious liberty are on a winning streak. Last month the Eighth Circuit Court of appeals ruled that Christian wedding photographers could not be compelled to use their artistic talents to help celebrate same-sex weddings. Today, the Arizona Supreme Court reached a similar holding, this time on behalf of Christian calligraphers and painters Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski. The case, brought by my friends and former colleagues at the Alliance Defending Freedom, is similar to multiple other wedding vendor cases. The plaintiffs do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation (they happily serve gay customers). They merely refuse to produce art that advances ideas they find objectionable.

Duka and Koski operate a limited liability company called “Brush & Nib Studios.” The company’s Operating Agreement declares its beliefs quite clearly — stating that it will not create “custom artwork that communicates ideas or messages . . . that contradict biblical truth, demean others, endorse racism, incite violence, or promote any marriage besides marriage between one man and one woman, such as same-sex marriage.” As with all these cases, the core question is whether the custom artwork at issue constitutes constitutionally protected speech (the court was interpreting the Arizona constitution, but applied federal free speech precedents). If so, then the state’s demand that the plaintiffs........

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