Recently, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF) has had the opportunity to file an amicus brief (also known as a friend-of-the-court brief) in an important religious liberty case here in New York.
Emilee Carpenter Photography v. James is a case that has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. Emilee Carpenter is a Christian photographer who declines to photograph same-sex “wedding” ceremonies because of her belief in the Biblical definition of marriage. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has filed a lawsuit on Emilee’s behalf challenging New York’s ban on discrimination in public accommodations based upon sexual orientation; in Emilee’s case, that ban infringes on her religious liberty and on her freedom of speech. The cost of violating New York’s Human Rights Law is high. A person or business that is sued for discrimination and loses can be hit with an award of damages, fined, stripped of his or her business license, and incarcerated. Carpenter is preemptively suing the state in anticipation of the possibility of a lawsuit against her in the future.
Significantly, NYCF is not the only organization that has filed an amicus brief in this case; Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson has filed another amicus brief on behalf of a total of 14 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia, along with Nebraska) supporting Emilee Carpenter. According to the Daily Signal, the brief makes the following argument: “The freedom against compelled speech applies in this case because Carpenter’s custom wedding photographs are her constitutionally protected speech. Those images—which Carpenter carefully selects, edits, and compiles—tell the story of the wedding day from her perspective, and they do so far better than words can. Because she speaks through her wedding photography, New York cannot force her to address the topic of same-sex marriage.”
It is hoped that Emilee Carpenter will win her case and force the state of New York to uphold her constitutional rights.
NYCF’s amicus brief was filed by former congressional candidate and attorney Beth Parlato.