The city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, has determined that ThinkRight Strategies, a political consulting firm, will not be subject to a public accommodations law that would have required the firm to promote political views they oppose.
Grant Strobl and Jacob Chludzinski, founders of ThinkRight, are both Christians and political conservatives. After they launched the business’ website in June 2019, Strobl and Chludzinski became concerned that Ann Arbor’s public accommodations law would force them to create and promote messages that contradict their beliefs.
In October 2014, Ann Arbor’s city council voted to expand its anti-discrimination policy to include political beliefs. Under the policy, both conservatives and liberals are obligated to create advocacy materials supporting opposing parties. Violators of the policy could face fines of up to $500 per day.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit against the city on behalf of Strobl and Chludzinski, arguing that the public accommodations law violates the First and 14th Amendments.
On Sept. 5, ADF announced that the city decided to not subject ThinkRight to its public accommodations law “because ThinkRight will only provide its services in ways that promote, or are not contrary to, its conservative political beliefs and therefore limits the platforms, views, policies, causes, events, or messages it will convey or promote through its goods and services.”
With confirmation from the court, ADF agreed to drop the lawsuit.
Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law, said the agreement that was reached between the city and ThinkRight makes sense because political consulting firms generally wouldn’t be considered places of public accommodations.
“Americans should be free to choose which political causes to promote,” said ADF Legal Counsel Samuel Green. “Ann Arbor has agreed that it won’t use this law to force Grant and Jacob to use their skills to promote causes they oppose, like abortion and socialism. Grant and Jacob will work with anyone when it advances their conservative beliefs, and we are pleased that the government will not force them to further messages or causes that undermine their values.”
Photo: Alliance Defending Freedom