The police guard the Supreme Court in Washington.
Mike Theiler | Reuters
The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday that it will not hear a case filed by a Christian florist arguing that a Washington state anti-discrimination law requiring them to provide individual flower arrangements for same-sex wedding ceremonies is unconstitutional.
The decision of the court did not affect the judgments of the regional court against the florist. It comes weeks after the Supreme Court weighed another gay rights issue and sided with a Catholic adoption agency in Philadelphia.
The case resembles a dispute resolved by the Supreme Court three years ago in which a religious baker refused to bake a custom cake for a same-sex wedding.
In that ruling, known as the Masterpiece Cakeshop, the court ruled 7-2 in favor of the baker, but refused to establish a general rule that might apply outside of the specific circumstances of the case.
The flower shop case known as Arlene’s Flowers affects the same lawyers and many of the same issues as the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.
The statement in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case was drafted by Judge Anthony Kennedy, who had also campaigned for LGBT rights from the bank. Kennedy is now retired and has been replaced by Judge Brett Kavanaugh, whose views on LGBT rights are unknown.
The florist case dates back to 2013 when Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, refused to deliver flowers for the wedding ceremony of her longtime clients Curt Freed and Robert Ingersoll on the grounds that her Southern Baptist beliefs were between marriages do not recognize two men.
Stutzman’s refusal eventually led the attorney general to obtain an injunction prohibiting Stutzman from discriminating against same-sex couples in the future. The Washington Supreme Court upheld the order and prompted Stutzman to ask the US Supreme Court to intervene.
The U.S. Supreme Court granted Stutzman’s motion and ordered the Washington Supreme Court to deliver a new judgment that takes into account the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which found Colorado to be unfairly hostile to the baker’s religious beliefs. The Washington Supreme Court re-confirmed the order asking Stutzman to provide her services to same-sex couples, noting that the state had not treated Stutzman with hostility.
“The court branded Barronelle as a ‘discriminator’ and ordered her to attend all or none of the weddings, to enable floral art and to design it individually,” wrote Kristen Wagoner, an attorney for Stutzman, to the judges.
Wagoner, a senior executive of the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, was also one of the lawyers representing the baker in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.
Stutzman has argued that her flower arrangements are effectively speech, which is protected by the First Amendment.
“Like all artists, Barronelle speaks through her custom-made creations,” wrote Wagoner in her petition to the Supreme Court, which characterizes the flower arrangements as “multimedia works with flowers”.
Ingersoll and Freed, who married in a small ceremony in 2013, have argued that Stutzman is essentially seeking an exemption for “floral art” from anti-discrimination laws.
“The idea of a discrimination law in the First Amendment has been rejected as many times as it has been raised,” wrote Ria Tabacco Mar, an ACLU attorney representing the couple who also represented the couple in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.