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Emilee Carpenter Photography v. James

Description:  New York state law forces photographer and blogger Emilee Carpenter to create photographs and blogs celebrating same-sex weddings if she does so for weddings between one man and one woman. Penalties for violating the law include fines of up to $100,000, a revoked business license, and up to a year in jail.

Tuesday, Sep 27, 2022

WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys

WHAT: Available for media interviews following oral arguments in Emilee Carpenter Photography v. James

WHEN: Immediately following hearing, which begins at 10 a.m. EDT, Wednesday, Sept. 28

WHERE: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse, 40 Foley Square, Courtroom 1703, New York, or watch livestream. To schedule an interview, contact ADF Media Relations Manager Bernadette Tasy at (480) 356-0324.

NEW YORK – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a New York photographer will be available for media interviews Wednesday following oral arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in her lawsuit against New York state and county officials.

ADF attorneys are asking the court to uphold the First Amendment rights of photographer Emilee Carpenter and reverse a district court’s ruling in Emilee Carpenter Photography v. James that concluded the state of New York and a local district attorney can force her to create photographs and blogs celebrating same-sex weddings in violation of her religious beliefs on marriage. New York’s laws threaten Carpenter with fines of up to $100,000, a revoked business license, and up to a year in jail.

“Free speech is for everyone. No one should be forced to say something they don’t believe,” said ADF Legal Counsel Bryan Neihart, who will be arguing before the court on behalf of Carpenter. “The government cannot coerce or silence speech because it doesn’t like certain ideas. The Constitution ensures Americans can speak consistent with their convictions. We are urging the 2nd Circuit to uphold this freedom so that Emilee can promote marriage according to her beliefs without being coerced by the government to speak a contrary message.”

In a similar case in Kentucky, a federal district court recently ruled that a Louisville-based photographer and blogger is free to create photographs and blogs to speak messages that align with her religious beliefs about marriage. ADF attorneys represent Chelsey Nelson in her challenge to a city law that required her to create photographs and blogs promoting same-sex wedding ceremonies if she does so for weddings between a man and a woman.

Both Nelson and Carpenter’s cases are comparable to an ADF case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, 303 Creative v. Elenis, involving Colorado graphic artist Lorie Smith, who is challenging a state law forcing her to express messages she doesn’t believe, in violation of her religious beliefs.

  • Pronunciation guide: Neihart (NYE'-hart)

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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ABOUT Bryan Neihart

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.


ABOUT Jonathan Scruggs

Jonathan Scruggs serves as senior counsel and director of the Center for Conscience Initiatives with Alliance Defending Freedom. In this role, he 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.