Supreme Court takes up case of web designer who opposes same-sex marriage
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Supreme Court takes up case of web designer who opposes same-sex marriage

The US Supreme Court Tuesday agreed to take up the case of a web designer who refuses to provide services related to same-sex marriages.

In 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, the court will once again consider how to balance religious freedoms with prohibitions against discrimination based on sexual orientation. The court previously addressed these issues in the 2018 case of a Colorado baker who had refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, citing his religious beliefs. The court’s narrow ruling in that case did not provide a clear answer as to whether and under what circumstances business owners can invoke their religious beliefs to exempt themselves from anti-discrimination laws.

The current case concerns Lorie Smith, a Colorado website designer who says she serves gay customers but will not create websites for same-sex marriages based on her religious beliefs. She intends to post a message to this effect but has not yet done so for fear of violating Colorado’s anti-discrimination ordinance. The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit rejected her argument that the law had a chilling effect on free speech. In taking up the case Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed to decide, “whether applying a public-accommodation law to compel an artist to speak or stay silent violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.”

Also Tuesday, the court agreed to take up Arellano v. McDonough. The court has been asked to decide two questions in this case:

  1. Whether the rebuttable presumption of equitable tolling from Irwin v. Department of Veterans Affairs applies to the one-year statutory deadline in 38 U.S.C. § 5110(b)(1) for seeking retroactive disability benefits, and, if so, whether the government has rebutted that presumption; and
  2. Whether, if 38 U.S.C. § 5110(b)(1) is amenable to equitable tolling, this case should be remanded so the agency can consider the particular facts and circumstances in the first instance.

This case concerns a navy veteran’s late submission of his disability benefits application due to mental illness.