Pope Francis, the Supreme Court, and American Constitutional Law – Catholic World Report

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Citing Pope Francis, “27+ Lay Roman Catholics” who are “practicing members of the Roman Catholic Church,” filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the much-discussed case of 303 Creative v. Elenis.

A group of American lay Catholics has asked the Supreme Court of the United States to incorporate statements by Pope Francis into American Constitutional decision-making.

On December 5, the Court heard oral arguments in the much-discussed case of 303 Creative v. Elenis. Loren Smith, who designs websites and online graphics in her business, 303 Creative, had petitioned the Colorado Civil Rights Commission in 2016 concerning what enforcement they would possibly bring against her if she expanded her business to designing wedding websites without including same-sex marriages.

In 2008, the state of Colorado had amended its “public accommodations” law to prohibit discrimination based on “sexual orientation.” Smith has never discriminated against any customer based on race, sex, creed, or sexual orientation.  When the state told her that her plans would violate the law, she filed a federal constitutional lawsuit alleging that her work involved and that its content was creative speech, that she was a Christian who believed in the biblical account of marriage, and that any coercing of her to accept customers for same-sex marriage would be a violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.

And, of course, this was the latest version of small businesses owned by Christians seeking relief from the state of Colorado.  In the now famous Masterpiece “cake case,” the Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that a Colorado Christian baker could not be forced to design a cake celebrating a gay marriage.  Designing and making such a cake was an exercise of his speech, and the Court upheld the baker’s contention in a decision that was somewhat equivocal constitutionally.

Citing Pope Francis, “27+ Lay Roman Catholics” who are “practicing members of the Roman Catholic Church,” filed a friend-of-the-court brief in 303 Creative supporting the state of Colorado and opposing Smith.  They state their legal interest in the case:

Pursuant to the teachings of Jesus Christ, as emphasized by Pope Francis, our faith supports welcoming all people, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals, with closeness, compassion and tenderness.

The brief directly quotes the Second Vatican Council’s Lumen Gentium that the laity “are empowered  — indeed sometimes obliged – to manifest their opinions on those things which pertain to the good of the Church.” And as a contemporary version of the same principle, the brief cites Pope Francis who said in a 2013 press conference, that bishops should recognize that “the work of a bishop” is sometimes “behind the faithful because the faithful can often sniff out the path.”

Pope Francis, the Supreme Court, and American Constitutional Law – Catholic World Report

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