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Colorado web designer ‘terrified,’ receiving death threats over Supreme Court free speech case

303 Creative LLC owner Lorie Smith could find victory in the Supreme Court regarding her freedom of speech, but the private battle doesn’t end there — in fact, she said it’s been ongoing for six years.

Between threats of harm and having her website repeatedly hacked, Smith told Fox News Digital, life at times has left her “terrified” since filing her initial complaint in 2016. She refuses to create websites for same-sex weddings, which is what’s put her business at odds with the state of Colorado.

“I’ve had my home address put on social media, I have received many threats — death threats, threats of bodily harm,” she said. “The security system on my home, my child’s school has been on alert. I’ve lost business, my clients have been harassed and my website… people attempt to hack into it, almost regularly by the hour. I’m not sure what will come after Monday, but if history is any foreshadowing of what’s to come, it’s possible some of those things could continue if not amplify.”

At the core of Smith’s case, 303 Creative vs. Elenis, is a First Amendment matter asking whether Colorado can force a businessperson to express something they don’t believe. It deals with issues of discrimination against the LGBTQ community and on what grounds someone can be denied service.


“Her case is solely focused on compelled speech because Colorado is apparently controlling and censoring that which she wants to express through her custom artwork,” said Kellie Fiedorek, senior counsel and government affairs director for Alliance Defending Freedom, the organization supporting Smith.

303 Creative owner Lorie Smith stands in front of the Colorado State Capitol.

303 Creative owner Lorie Smith stands in front of the Colorado State Capitol.
(Credit: Alliance Defending Freedom)

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Smith in July 2021, so she appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court that September and was granted a petition for review set for February 2022. 

Oral arguments began Monday, and with a conservative majority, some project the Court will side with Smith.

“Given that Ms. Smith lost her case in the lower courts and that the Supreme Court agreed to hear this case, there seems to be pretty strong evidence that the Supreme Court intends to rule in favor of Ms. Smith and further strengthen those aspects of the First Amendment protecting Americans against coerced speech mandated by government,” said Mark Smith, constitutional attorney and professor of law at the Ave Maria School of Law.

“The First Amendment’s free speech clause recognizes the right to speak freely,” he added. “The First Amendment also recognizes the constitutional right not to be forced by government to express views that you do not wish to speak or that you do not support. The Colorado law arguably compels creative artists, such as Lorie Smith here, to creatively express views that they oppose on religious grounds.”

Even if she wins, Smith said she has already lived through frightening experiences that caused her to sleep on the floor of her home with her young daughter.

Smith recounted the first night after originally filing suit that her husband was traveling and her neighbor, she said, put her address on social media.


“I was terrified,” she said. “I remember that night and cars coming down the street and just worrying if someone was going to cause us harm only because the messages that I had received were threatening — some pretty desperate, violent, specific things. So naturally, I was concerned, and I remember just sleeping on the floor that night with my daughter who clearly didn’t know what was going on — but honestly, just terrified that someone could carry out the things that they had threatened.”

303 Creative owner Lorie Smith works on her laptop.

303 Creative owner Lorie Smith works on her laptop.
(Credit: Alliance Defending Freedom)

Smith’s message is that she harbors no hate against the LGBTQ community, and that she has LGBTQ clients she works with on projects besides same-sex weddings. 

She added that she would never want an LGBTQ business owner forced into creating anti-LGBTQ products, and that this protection would be afforded to everyone should she win her case.

Has it been worth the stress, threats and fear to resolve this free speech issue for Smith? She says so.

“It protects not just me — it protects those who have different views on marriage, who perhaps oppose my view on marriage,” she said. “The right to speak freely is guaranteed to all of us, and that’s been hard at times.”


“While it has come at a cost, it’s a right worth protecting.”

Fox News Digital reached out to Aubrey Elenis, director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division, and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office for comment but did not receive a response.