Artists To Appeal Decision That Allows Phoenix To Control Artistic Expression

Two Phoenix artists will appeal a court rulingreleased Wednesday that allows a sweeping Phoenix ordinance to stand even though it uses the threat of jail time and fines to silence their desired speech and forces them to create custom artwork expressing messages that violate their core beliefs.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing the artists in their civil liberties lawsuit will continue to challenge the ordinance, which illegally controls artistic expression—violating the freedom of Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski of Brush & Nib Studio to choose which messages to convey and refrain from conveying.

“No creative professional should be threatened with jail time for expressing a point of view that the government doesn’t favor,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs. “Breanna and Joanna are happy to create custom art for all people; they simply object to being forced to pour their heart, imagination, and talent into creating messages that violate their consciences. Phoenix must allow them and any other artists to make their own decisions about which messages they will promote. That’s why we intend to appeal this decision.”

Duka and Koski specialize in hand-painting, hand-lettering, and calligraphy for weddings and other events. The women’s deeply held religious beliefs guide them in determining which messages they can and cannot promote through their commissioned artwork. The city’s ordinance forces them to use their artistic talents to celebrate and promote same-sex marriages in violation of their beliefs. It also bans them from publicly communicating their Christian belief that God designed marriage as a union between one man and woman and how those beliefs affect the artwork they can create.

In a pre-enforcement challenge to City Code Section 18-4(B), ADF attorneys argue that the ordinance violates the Arizona Constitution and Arizona’s Free Exercise of Religion Act. Phoenix officials have construed the ordinance to force artists, like Duka and Koski, to create objectionable art, even though they decide what art they can create based on the art’s message, not the requester’s personal characteristics.

The Phoenix ordinance also includes a censorship provision that prohibits businesses, including artists, from publicly communicating any message that “implies” someone would be “unwelcome” or “not solicited” based upon the person’s sexual orientation. If Duka and Koski publicly explain their position on marriage and how that position affects their artwork, they risk up to six months in jail, a $2,500 fine, and three years of probation for each day they violate the ordinance.

The ruling in Brush & Nib Studio v. City of Phoenix came from Maricopa County Superior Court. ADF attorneys also represent cake artist Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop in another artistic freedom case, which is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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  1. We must stand up and fight this evil that is crippling our lives. What has happened to America? I always thought it stood for all that was good and fair. But after reading this article I fear that America is not alone Australia is adopting the same line of thought, we are grinding ourselves into the ground. May God forgive us and come to our rescue.

  2. I’ve been telling people for years that we don’t live in a free country. People may have had more freedoms in the past but this is now. Now we are living in a communist country plain and simple. Most people don’t understand anything until it directly effects their lives and then it’s probably too late.

  3. This is starting to feel a lot like Nazi Germany. What’s next?? Are they going to come into our homes and tell us what books we CANNOT read??

  4. it is the one world’ers – the globalists – those that thing a one world government is the solution. It is the coming war – you can taste it.

  5. It should surprise no one that the left, the political movement of Stalin, Mao, Castro and the Democrat Party wishes to force totalitarian thought police on Arizonans. The only difference between those advancing thought control and an end to freedom of religion here and the communists of Europe and China and etc., is that the Democrat Party of Pelosi and Schumer and their Republican allies like Jeff Flake, seek to do it through indirect intimidation (or more directly through mob rule) rather than with the police clubs preferred by their Russian and Cuban forerunners. Thankfully, our constitution is a bulwark against the left`s crusade against freedom of expression and the free exercise of religion and with the election of President Trump, we have one more defender of our constitutional rights sitting on the Supreme Court where this issue will finally be decided.

  6. Time for those in Phoenix that don’t agree with them to rise up or to move out. Hope they know we went to war with Germany because of people like this.

  7. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF,——–.
    To me that means the government has no right to tell someone how to practice their religious beliefs.

    • yeah but ‘leftists’ are above all that according to them – just ask them they’ll “TELL YOU”

  8. BULLSHIT! Is what this law is… it’s quite simple – hire another artist. It’s like saying a doctor ‘must perform abortions’ – really ? Are the forced to do this? Oh Canada… perhaps – that is the legal battle. And that is where ‘freedom of religion’ is now evolved to – the persecution of Christians is not far behind. All will comply “OR ELSE” —- the persecution has arrived – now it will gain momentum.

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