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    Rutledge Urges Kentucky Supreme Court to Protect Freedom of Speech


    February 7, 2018

    Leads a 10-state coalition in filing an amicus brief in Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission v. Hands On Originals, Inc.

    LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is leading a 10-state coalition in filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of Kentucky urging the court to protect their citizens’ freedom of speech. The attorneys general believe this case has national implications and that similar cases may arise in their states.

    “Both sides in this case are in agreement that printing of the t-shirts undoubtedly qualifies as speech under the First Amendment,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This country has a rich history of protecting freedom of speech, as well as the free exercise of religion. Along with my colleagues, I am urging the Supreme Court of Kentucky to overturn the order from the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, which threatens First Amendment rights everywhere.”

    This case involves a t-shirt printing company, Hands On Originals, that declined to print t-shirts supporting the Lexington Pride Festival. The company is being sued by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission for refusing to disseminate a message with which it disagreed.

    Hands On Originals and its owners do not object to serving customers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, but object to producing items that promote acts that are contrary to their deeply held beliefs. The business offered to refer the organization to another company that would have printed the t-shirts for the pride festival.

    In the brief, the attorneys general state: “It is one thing to compel a business to serve people on an equal basis without regard to sexual orientation; it is quite another thing to compel a person to print t-shirts that communicate a message that he or she believes to be profoundly wrong.”

    Arkansas is joined in filing by attorneys general from Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.

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