Maureen Collins on Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Dealt a Huge Blow to Government-Compelled Speech

Carl Larsen, co-owner of Telescope Media Group in St. Cloud, Minnesota | Photo: Alliance Defending Freedom

For many of us, our minds go directly to issues of censorship when we think of freedom of speech and the First Amendment—and with good reason. Throughout history, many governments have prevented people from speaking as a means of totalitarian control.
But we often forget that governments can violate our freedom of speech in the opposite direction by forcing us to speak messages with which we disagree. To many of us, this issue of “compelled speech” may sound like a hypothetical scenario discussed only by law students. But for Carl and Angel Larsen, it’s a stark reality.

Carl and Angel are a married couple from St. Cloud, Minnesota, and the owners of Telescope Media Group, a video and film studio. They’re also devout Christians who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.

No one would dispute that Carl and Angel serve everyone. The couple serves a diverse group of people through their business and are known in their community for opening their doors to anyone for their family dinners. But Carl and Angel cannot express all messages through their films—especially messages with which they disagree. And why would we expect them to?

But a law in the state of Minnesota would compel Carl and Angel to do just that—or face dire consequences. Under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, Telescope Media Group would be forced to create videos celebrating same-sex weddings if they created videos celebrating marriages between one man and one woman.

If the Larsens declined to create such videos, they would face steep fines and even up to 90 days in jail. As the parents of eight children, this wasn’t an option for Carl and Angel. They knew they needed to do something to protect their First Amendment rights. So, with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, they challenged the law.

And on Aug. 23, they got some great news. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit overturned an appellate court’s decision to dismiss the Larsens’ case and ruled that they had a viable legal claim to stop Minnesota from compelling them to speak against their religious beliefs.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Christian Post, Maureen Collins