Chelsey Nelson Photography v. Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government
Description: A Louisville, Kentucky, law forces a local photographer and blogger to use her artistic talents to promote same-sex wedding ceremonies if she photographs and blogs about weddings between one man and one woman. The law also forbids her and her studio from publicly explaining to clients and potential clients through her studio’s own website or social media sites the religious reasons why she only celebrates wedding ceremonies between one man and one woman.
KY photographer asks 6th Circuit to protect her right to create freely
WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys
WHAT: Available for media interviews following oral arguments in Chelsey Nelson Photography v. Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government
WHEN: Immediately following hearing, which begins at 9 a.m. EDT, Friday, July 28
WHERE: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, Potter Stewart U.S. Courthouse, 100 E. Fifth St., Cincinnati, or view the livestream. To schedule an interview, contact ADF Media Relations Specialist Hattie Troutman at (771) 200-7630.
CINCINNATI – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a wedding photographer and blogger will be available for media interviews Friday following oral arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in her lawsuit against the city of Louisville.
ADF attorneys are asking the court to uphold the First Amendment rights of Chelsey Nelson and her photography studio and affirm a district court’s ruling in Chelsey Nelson Photography v. Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government. That court concluded Louisville cannot misuse its laws to compel Nelson to create photographs and blogs celebrating a view of marriage she does not believe. The city of Louisville then appealed that ruling to the 6th Circuit.
“Free speech is for everyone. The U.S. Supreme Court recently affirmed in 303 Creative v. Elenis that all artists have the freedom to create messages that align with their beliefs without fear of government punishment,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs, vice president of litigation strategy and the Center for Conscience Initiatives, who will argue before the court on behalf of Nelson. “That ruling allows non-discrimination ordinances like Louisville’s to remain in place while ensuring that government officials cannot misuse those laws to compel speech. We are asking the 6th Circuit to affirm the lower court ruling, uphold this freedom, and allow Chelsey to promote marriage according to her beliefs.”
Nelson’s case is comparable to another ADF case recently decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, 303 Creative v. Elenis. That case involved Colorado graphic artist and website designer Lorie Smith, who challenged a state law that forced her to express messages that violated her beliefs. The Supreme Court concluded that the state of Colorado could not compel Smith to create content that contradicted her views on marriage. In a supplemental brief, ADF attorneys explained why 303 Creative resolves Nelson’s case too and protects the freedom of speech for all Americans.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.
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Jonathan Scruggs serves as senior counsel and vice president of litigation strategy and the Center for Conscience Initiatives with Alliance Defending Freedom. In this role, he identifies new litigation opportunities and develops new strategies for protecting free speech and religious liberty in collaboration with the chief legal counsel and litigation team directors. As the leader for the Center for Conscience Initiatives, Scruggs oversees the litigation team defending the rights of professionals and business owners to live out their faith as well as the litigation efforts to protect equal opportunities for women in athletics. Since joining ADF in 2006, Scruggs has worked on and prevailed in a variety of cases that protect the right of people to freely express their faith in their business, at school, and in the public square. He earned his J.D. at Harvard Law School and is admitted to practice in the states of Arizona and Tennessee. Scruggs is also admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court and multiple federal district and appellate courts.
Bryan Neihart serves as legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he is a member of the Center for Conscience Initiatives. Before joining ADF, Neihart clerked for judges on the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado and the Colorado Court of Appeals. He also practiced law with a litigation firm in Denver, Colorado where he primarily represented businesses, insurance companies, and hospitals in both federal and state courts. Neihart worked as a law clerk to Judge David Furman of the Colorado Court of Appeals after graduating from law school. Neihart earned his J.D. from the Sturm College of Law of the University of Denver in 2014, where he was inducted into the Order of the Coif and served as a board member on the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy. While attending the University of Denver, he also received a M.A. in international human rights from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies. Neihart obtained his B.A., summa cum laude, in French and international relations from Wheaton College (IL) in 2011. Neihart is a member of the state bars of Arizona and Colorado.