Key First Amendment Decision in the Supreme Court's 2022-2023 Term

The U.S. Supreme Court's 2022-2023 term featured several pivotal First Amendment cases, addressing issues from compelled speech to the intersection of free speech and technology. These cases have significant implications for the interpretation and application of First Amendment rights.

1. 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis (Compelled Speech)

In a landmark decision, the court held that Colorado's public accommodations law, which prohibits discrimination based on race or gender, could not compel a web designer to create wedding websites for same-sex marriages if it conflicted with her beliefs. This 6–3 decision, led by Justice Gorsuch, emphasized the First Amendment's protection against compelled speech.

2. Counterman v. Colorado (True Threats)

Elevating free speech over concerns about stalking and harassment, the court heightened the intent requirement to convict someone of making a "true threat." This 7–2 decision, authored by Justice Kagan, established recklessness as the standard, emphasizing the need to protect speech from undue legal punishment.

3. Groff v. DeJoy (Religious Accommodations)

In a unanimous decision, the court sided with a former U.S. Postal Service employee denied a religious accommodation to avoid work on Sundays. This case redefined the understanding of "undue hardship" under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, shifting the standard from a de minimis cost to "substantial increased costs."

4. United States v. Hansen (Overbreadth Doctrine)

The court upheld a federal statute prohibiting encouragement or inducement of illegal immigration, interpreting the law to focus on criminal acts rather than mere speech. This decision, while avoiding a direct ruling on the "overbreadth" doctrine, hinted at future considerations of this First Amendment principle.

5. Jack Daniel’s Properties Inc. v. VIP Products LLC (Trademark)

In a unanimous decision, the court favored intellectual property rights over expressive values, siding with Jack Daniel’s in its trademark infringement claim against a dog toy resembling its whiskey bottle. The court rejected the argument that the toy's humorous nature warranted First Amendment protection.

6. Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc. v. Goldsmith (Copyright)

The court, in a 7–2 decision, upheld the Second Circuit’s ruling against Andy Warhol for infringing on Lynn Goldsmith’s copyrighted photograph of Prince. This case emphasized the limitations of the "fair use" defense in copyright law, particularly in artistic expressions.

7. Gonzalez v. Google LLC (Section 230)

In an unsigned decision, the court avoided a direct ruling on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides broad immunity to social media companies for user-generated content. The case was returned to the lower courts without addressing the scope of Section 230.

8. Twitter Inc. v. Taamneh (Social Media Liability)

The court unanimously ruled that tech giants were not liable for allowing the Islamic State group to use their platforms, under a federal anti-terrorism statute. This decision clarified the extent of liability for social media companies in cases of online extremism.

9. Yeshiva University v. YU Pride Alliance (Religion and Gay Rights)

In a 5–4 decision, the court did not stay a New York state ruling requiring Yeshiva University to recognize an LGBTQ+ student organization. The decision left open the possibility of future consideration of the First Amendment arguments presented.

10. A v. Hochul (COVID Restrictions)

The court, in a 6–3 vote, declined to review a challenge to New York's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers. This decision signaled a possible waning interest in COVID-related cases, despite ongoing free exercise clause debates.


The 2022-2023 Supreme Court term demonstrated the court's ongoing balancing act between protecting First Amendment freedoms and addressing evolving societal and technological challenges. These decisions will undoubtedly shape the landscape of free speech and religious liberty in the United States for years to come.

Co-authored by David Karp, an appellate lawyer at Carlton Fields.