303 Creative, Masterpiece Cakeshop, and the Fate of Free Exercise for Wedding Vendors

Event Video

Listen & Download

Over the past decade, the tension between First Amendment rights and public accommodations laws has grown, as wedding vendors have refused to serve same-sex weddings pursuant to their consciences. On June 30, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, which held that the free speech clause prohibits a state from forcing a website designer to create messages with which the designer disagrees. That said, the Court has yet to issue a clear decision that resolves these issues under the free exercise clause, even though wedding vendors almost invariably object to providing services on religious grounds. Indeed, when the free exercise question was addressed in Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. V. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Court largely punted on the issue and resolved the case on very narrow procedural grounds.

Wedding-vendor litigation continues to percolate throughout the country and raises important questions for First Amendment jurisprudence, including whether the Supreme Court should reconsider Employment Division v. Smith, whether the free exercise clause extends protection to wedding vendors in a similar way to the free speech clause, and whether the so-called “hybrid rights doctrine” is a viable theory for analyzing religious claims to exemptions. Please join us as we discuss these issues and others with some of the leading scholars and practitioners in this space.


  • Prof. Andrew Koppelman, John Paul Stevens Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Prof. Douglas Laycock, Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Virginia School of Law
  • Jonathan Scruggs, Senior Counsel and the Director for the Center for Conscience Initiatives, Alliance Defending Freedom
  • (Moderator) Austin Rogers, Chief Counsel at Senate Judiciary Committee


As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.