New York State Bar Association To File Amicus Brief in Vitally Important U.S. Supreme Court Case Involving LGBTQ Rights

By Susan DeSantis

April 1, 2022

New York State Bar Association To File Amicus Brief in Vitally Important U.S. Supreme Court Case Involving LGBTQ Rights


By Susan DeSantis

The Supreme Court Will be Examining the Balance Between Critical Non-Discrimination Laws and Their Role in Public Accommodations under the First Amendment

The New York State Bar Association’s Executive Committee voted today to participate in a consequential U.S. Supreme Court case that could seriously impact the application of anti-discrimination laws for the LGBTQ community and have a far-reaching impact across the country.

Similar to NYSBA’s participation in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia in 2020, the association plans to file an amicus curiae in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, which is expected to be heard during the next term.

“The New York State Bar Association has a long tradition of advocating for the human and legal rights of every New Yorker,” said NYSBA President T. Andrew Brown. “I know that our brief will provide the Supreme Court with the kind of reasoned analysis that will support our contention that non-discrimination laws in public accommodations must protect the LGBTQ community and everyone else.”

Almost four years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission on procedural grounds rather than the merits, the court has again decided to take up another case out of Colorado on the intersection of anti-discrimination laws as applied in public accommodations and the First Amendment.

Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws are narrowly tailored to support Colorado’s interest that LGBTQ customers have access to the publicly available wedding website design services that the petitioner provides, and that Colorado has a compelling interest to protect equal access to public accommodations for all customers.

When the U.S. Supreme Court accepted the case, the court limited the question to “whether applying a public-accommodation law to compel an artist to speak or stay silent violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.”

The amicus curiae team will again be led by Christopher R. Riano, chair of the LGBTQ Law Section, co-chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, and member of the Executive Committee, and Jackie P. Drohan III, chair of the LGBTQ Law Section’s Litigation/Amicus Committee and member of the NYSBA Finance Committee.

“We are deeply honored to again be called upon to represent the best of our profession and lead the New York State Bar Association at the U.S. Supreme Court to say that there is no place for discrimination in publicly available accommodations, for the LGBTQ community or anyone else,” Riano said. “I am exceedingly proud of the team that worked on our prior amicus curiae brief at the Supreme Court two years ago, and I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the team at the Supreme Court once again.”

About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, NYSBA has helped shape the development of law, educated, and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.


Contact: Susan DeSantis
[email protected]

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