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AG Healey Leads Coalition Filing Anti-Discrimination Brief

  • Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, leading a coalition of nineteen states and the District of Columbia, filed an amicus curiae brief defending the constitutionality of New York’s anti-discrimination law in an appeal to the Second Circuit of a case brought by a New York wedding photographer against New York AG Letitia James and others. In the brief, the amici states argue that New York State’s public accommodation law does not violate the photographer’s First Amendment rights and asks the Court to affirm the decision below dismissing the wedding photographer’s complaint.
  • In the underlying case, Emilee Carpenter LLC v. James, a wedding photographer argued that New York’s anti-discrimination law violated both her freedom of speech and the free exercise of her religious beliefs when she wishes to deny her services to same-sex weddings, claiming that requiring her to photograph same-sex weddings would violate her deeply-held religious beliefs. The law prohibits sexual-orientation discrimination by businesses that sell to the public, as well as banning advertisements that communicate an intent to refuse service based on sexual orientation.
  • Among other arguments, the AGs opined in their brief that exempting businesses from public accommodation laws on First Amendment ground would undermine the benefits of those laws. Further, businesses that are open to the public are not exempted from state anti-discrimination laws because of the First Amendment. The brief is the latest in a series of similar filings by Healey-led coalitions defending public accommodation laws in other states, including Virginia, Minnesota, and Colorado.