NEW YORK, Aug. 23, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — On behalf of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding (Tanenbaum), a pro bono team from Schulte Roth & Zabel (SRZ) filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in defense of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) on August 19, 2022.
Filed in support of the State of Colorado and other respondents, the brief is in response to a lawsuit brought by a graphic designer refusing website design services to LGBTQ+ engaged couples on the basis of the graphic designer’s religious beliefs. This petitioner argues that CADA infringes on her First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech, claiming that her websites are artistic expression and that by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, CADA burdens that expression.
As an organization dedicated to religious liberty, Tanenbaum argues that a successful petition finding CADA unconstitutional would allow for discrimination against individuals based on either their religious beliefs or lack thereof.
“The best way to ensure robust and lasting protection for religious freedom is to preserve the government’s ability to implement anti-discrimination laws,” said Tanenbaum CEO Mark Fowler. “In a flawed interpretation of free speech precedent, the petitioner violates CADA and seeks to open the door to unchecked discrimination and harm for years to come.”
“Schulte Roth & Zabel has a long and proud history defending LGBTQ+ rights and is proud to partner with Tanenbaum in this critical defense of Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws,” said Robert Ward, Litigation Partner at Schulte Roth & Zabel. “Beyond the petitioner’s myopic interpretation of the First Amendment, she fails to recognize CADA’s compelling interest in promoting equality and equal access to public accommodations. We look forward to a vigorous defense and sustained protection for the many benefits that CADA provides.”
As part of the firm’s extensive pro bono initiatives, SRZ has served as long-time counsel to Tanenbaum, which promotes mutual respect with practical programs that bridge religious differences and combat prejudice in schools, workplaces, public accommodations, health care settings and areas of armed conflict. SRZ previously filed an amicus brief on behalf of Tanenbaum in connection with the Masterpiece Cake Shop case, which also argued in favor of CADA when a bakery refused service to same-sex couples.
The SRZ team behind the amicus brief was led by Partner Robert Ward, and includes Special Counsel for Pro Bono Initiatives Sara Solfanelli, Special Counsel Randall Adams, and Associates John Schneider and Erika Simonson.