Power Play

Supreme Court declines to hear appeal from photographers who wouldn't work same-sex ceremony

A view of the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Saving its biggest case for last, the Supreme Court is expected to announce its verdict Thursday on President Barack Obama's health care law. The outcome is likely to be a factor in the presidential campaign and help define John Roberts' legacy as chief justice. But the court's ruling almost certainly will not be the last word on America's tangled efforts to address health care woes.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A view of the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Saving its biggest case for last, the Supreme Court is expected to announce its verdict Thursday on President Barack Obama's health care law. The outcome is likely to be a factor in the presidential campaign and help define John Roberts' legacy as chief justice. But the court's ruling almost certainly will not be the last word on America's tangled efforts to address health care woes. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)  (AP )

The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from Christian photographers who were fined and admonished by the New Mexico Supreme Court for declining to work a same-sex ceremony, in what could be a blow to religious business owners. 

The high court decision not to take up the appeal means the New Mexico ruling against them stands. That ruling is only binding in New Mexico, but could set a precedent that can be cited in subsequent cases. 

In this case, Elane Photography, owned by Jon and Elaine Huguenin of New Mexico, was brought to court for refusing to photograph a same-sex couple's commitment ceremony in 2006. 

An attorney for the couple argued that the business openly advertises its wedding photography services, and as a public business is required to follow the same anti-discrimination laws as any other company. 

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in August that the business's refusal to photograph the ceremony involving two women did violate the state's Human Rights Act. 

Lawyers for the business, though, argued the ruling violates the business owners' free speech rights by compelling them to "express messages that conflict with their religious beliefs." 

Elaine Huguenin said she also has a right of artistic expression under the First Amendment that allows her to choose what pictures to take, or refrain from taking. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.