Sotomayor dissents after SCOTUS underlines protections for LGBTQ+ people: 'a sad day in American constitutional law'

Sonia Sotomayor
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.Leigh Vogel/Getty Images
  • Justice Sonia Sotomayor blasted the Supreme Court for siding with a web designer who wanted to not serve same-sex couples.

  • Sotomayor wrote a firey dissent, arguing that high court's decision will lead to LGBTQ+ Americans becoming second-class citizens.

  • "Today is a sad day in American constitutional law and in the lives of LGBT people," she wrote.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor slammed the Supreme Court for siding with a Colorado web designer who argued her constitutional rights were being violated if she was forced to make a website for a same-sex couple getting married, tearing into her colleagues for setting up LGBTQ+ Americans to be "second-class" citizens.

"Today is a sad day in American constitutional law and in the lives of LGBT people," Sotomayor wrote in her dissenting opinion.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the court's opinion in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, leading the high court's six conservative members in finding that public accommodation laws cannot supersede a person's First Amendment rights. Sotomayor was joined in her dissent by the court's two other liberals, Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Sotomayor wrote that this is the first time in the nation's history that the Supreme Court has allowed a public business to discriminate against a "protected class" of people. Under federal law, sexual orientation is a protected class that cannot be discriminated against. Friday's decision underlines that such protections are not absolute.

"The opinion of the Court is, quite literally, a notice that reads: 'Some services may be denied to same-sex couples,'" Sotomayor wrote.

Gorsuch devoted large sections of his majority opinion to responding to Sotomayor. He also argued that Sotomayor "conjures out of thin air" that the ruling will allow for very apparent discrimination.

"Our decision today does not concern—much less endorse—anything like the " 'straight couples only' " notices the dissent conjures out of thin air," Gorsuch wrote in a footnote.

Addressing her dissent, Gorsuch argued that Sotomayor ignored the difference between someone wanting to control their own speech versus ensuring the sale of something on equal terms.

"While it does not protect status-based discrimination unrelated to expression, generally it does protect a speaker's right to control her own message—even when we may disapprove of the speaker's motive or the message itself," Gorsuch wrote in a footnote about the Free Speech Clause in the First Amendment. "The dissent's derision is no answer to any of this."

Sotomayor said the court's opinion will lead to LGBTQ+ Americans and potentially other groups of people receiving unequal treatment without legal recourse.

"What message does that send? It sends the message that we live in a society with social castes. It says to the child of the same-sex couple that their parents' relationship is not equal to others'."

In concluding her dissent, Sotomayor said the future treatment of LGBTQ+ Americans in the public space was not solely decided by the high court. Rather, it is now up to individual business owners to plot the path forward.

"Every business owner in America has a choice whether to live out the values in the Constitution."

Read the original article on Business Insider