SCOTUS Sends Florist Case Back (Liberty Counsel)

Jun 25, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court sent the case of floral artist Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, back to the Washington Supreme Court today after vacating that court’s decision and instructing it to reconsider her lawsuit in light of the recent decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Alliance Defending Freedom filed a supplemental brief asking the Court to send the case back to consider the alleged religious bias that requires a reversal like in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. In that similar case, the Court reversed Colorado’s decision to punish cake artist Jack Phillips for living and working consistently with his religious beliefs about marriage, just as Stutzman has also been trying to do while under legal attack by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the American Civil Liberties Union. The two sued Stutzman after she declined, because of her sincerely held religious beliefs, to design custom floral arrangements celebrating the same-sex “wedding” of a customer she had served for nearly 10 years.

In contrast, AG Ferguson failed to prosecute a business that berated and discriminated against Christian customers. However, Ferguson has, on his own initiative, pursued unprecedented measures to punish 73-year-old Stutzman, not just in her capacity as a business owner but also in her personal capacity. Stutzman’s personal assets, including her life savings, are at stake in this case. After Ferguson obtained a court order allowing him to collect on Stutzman’s personal assets, he publicized a letter offering to settle the case for $2,001. In exchange, he demanded that Stutzman give up her religious and artistic freedom. In the Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling, it condemned those one-sided, discriminatory applications of the law against people of faith.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has made a positive move by asking the Washington Supreme Court to reconsider Barronelle Stutzman’s case in light of the recent Masterpiece Cakeshop decision,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Washington Attorney General Ferguson’s efforts to punish Barronelle because he disagrees with her beliefs about marriage are as hostile and unconstitutional as Colorado’s attempt to punish Jack for his faith. The Court denounced government hostility toward the religious beliefs about marriage held by creative professionals in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. Both Barronelle and Jack serve all customers. Yet, they have a First Amendment right to decline using their artistic talents to celebrate an event that conflicts with their religious beliefs,” said Staver.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.