Arlene’s Flowers v. State of Washington | Arlene’s Flowers v. Ingersoll

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Description:  Barronelle Stutzman, the sole owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, has for her entire career served and employed people who identify as homosexual. Despite this, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Washington attorney general allege that she is guilty of unlawful discrimination because she acted consistent with her faith and declined to use her creative skills to design floral arrangements for the same-sex ceremony of a long-time customer, Robert Ingersoll, and another man, Curt Freed.

Broad support for artistic freedom reflected in numerous briefs at Supreme Court

14 states, 29 members of Congress join others asking justices to take up Washington state floral artist’s case
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court has received numerous friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the freedom of a Washington state floral artist—and, by extension, other creative professionals—to decline to create artistic expression and participate in events with which they disagree. The briefs filed in Arlene’s Flowers v. State of Washington and Arlene’s Flowers v. Ingersoll include support from 14 states, 29 members of Congress, and a variety of legal experts, religious groups, and other creative professionals.

Last month, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Barronelle Stutzman and her floral shop, Arlene’s Flowers, asked the high court to take up the case after the Washington Supreme Court ruled that a state law could force her to act contrary to her faith. ADF attorneys have asked the high court to consolidate Stutzman’s case with a similar ADF case that the court already accepted, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which involves cake artist Jack Phillips. Many of the friend-of-the-court briefs also encourage consolidation of the two cases.

“As the numerous briefs filed in this case affirm, the government shouldn’t be allowed to ruin Barronelle or any other creative professional for peacefully living and working according to her faith,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner, who argued before the Washington Supreme Court together with co-counsel George Ahrend in November of last year. “We hope the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the arguments in these briefs, take this case, and affirm that the government shouldn’t have the power to force a 72-year-old grandmother to surrender her freedom in order to run her family business. Anyone who supports the First Amendment freedoms that the U.S. Constitution guarantees to all of us should stand with Barronelle.”

The state courts ruled that Stutzman must pay penalties and attorneys’ fees for declining to use her artistic abilities to design custom floral arrangements for a long-time customer’s same-sex ceremony. Rather than participate in that ceremony, Stutzman referred Rob Ingersoll, whom she considers a friend and had served for nearly 10 years, to several other florists in the area.

The states, in their brief, object to the view that “citizens may be coerced—as a condition of earning a living through artistic expression—to use their artistic talents to engage in expression supporting contested social and political issues. This type of compelled speech, whether by States or even local municipalities that seek to enact similar laws, is constitutionally forbidden. And for good reason—government having the ability to order individuals to speak in a manner that violates their conscience is fundamentally at odds with the freedom of expression and tolerance for a diversity of viewpoints that this Nation has long enjoyed and promoted.”

A brief that a group of international Christian photographers filed with the high court adds, “The ability of many religious citizens to participate in the wedding service provider industry will be imperiled if the Washington Supreme Court decision is not reviewed separately or in conjunction with the pending Masterpiece Cakeshop case…. Applying Washington’s public accommodations law to force Arlene’s Flowers to participate in same-sex wedding celebrations calls into question the right of many other citizens who desire to act and speak consistent with their conscience. Photographers, in particular, are vulnerable to the same conflict in this case: namely, the use of public accommodations laws to force unwilling citizens to speak and act against their beliefs.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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Friend-of-the-court briefs filed with U.S. Supreme Court

Additional resources: Arlene’s Flowers v. State of Washington | Arlene’s Flowers v. Ingersoll

Scroll down to view additional resources pertaining to this case and its surrounding issue
Sunday, February 25, 2018

Previous news releases:

  • 2017-07-14: Floral artist asks US Supreme Court to protect her freedom
  • 2017-02-16: Washington floral artist to ask US Supreme Court to protect her freedom
  • 2017-02-16: Washington Supreme Court to issue decision Thursday in floral artist case
  • 2016-09-14: Floral artist to Washington Supreme Court: Protect my artistic freedom
  • 2016-09-30: Support for floral artist at full bloom
  • 2016-03-03: Washington Supreme Court will hear case over floral artist’s freedom
  • 2016-02-08: Washington floral artist’s freedom firmly rooted in federal, state constitutional law
  • 2015-08-10: ADF to Wash. council: Religious freedom resolution protects business owners
  • 2015-06-01: Wash. grandmother’s home, livelihood, freedom at stake
  • 2015-04-28: ADF asks Washington Supreme Court to review floral artist’s case
  • 2015-03-27: Wash. floral artist’s home, savings still at risk after court judgment
  • 2015-02-20: Floral artist responds to Wash. attorney general's settlement offer
  • 2015-02-18: Wash. floral artist’s home, savings at risk of state seizure after court ruling
  • 2014-12-18: Wash. grandmother’s religious freedom, livelihood at stake
  • 2014-12-04: State AG targets Wash. grandmother’s religious freedom and personal assets
  • 2013-10-28: Florist to court: Dismiss Wash. AG's attack on religious freedom
  • 2013-05-21: Wash. florist answers ACLU lawsuit
  • 2013-05-16: Wash. florist will not wilt, sues AG to reclaim religious freedom

  • Barronelle Stutzman: All we ask is for the freedom to live out our beliefs (USA Today, 2018-02-25)
  • James Gottry: LGBT ideology could cost a 72-year-old florist everything (The Daily Caller, 2017-08-09)
  • Jim Campbell: Barronelle Stutzman shows sexual orientation laws treat religious people like racists (The Federalist, 2017-02-27)
  • Jim Campbell: Will court ruling against Christian florist prompt Trump to action on religious freedom? (CNS News, 2017-02-24)
  • Jim Campbell: Arguments separating fashion designers from other artists aren’t worthy of the runway (National Review, 2017-01-23)
  • Jim Campbell: Artists’ free speech rights at stake in Washington florist case (Daily Signal, 2016-11-29)
  • Kristen Waggoner and Rory Gray: When do ‘state messages’ trump free speech? (Seattle Times, 2016-11-23)
  • Jim Campbell: Liberal logic on designer who won’t dress Melania: Conscience rights for me but not for thee (CNS News, 2016-11-21)
  • Barronelle Stutzman: My case should concern everyone (Spokesman-Review, 2016-11-12)
  • Barronelle Stutzman: Florist: LGBT rights law could destroy my business (Indianapolis Star, 2016-01-27)
  • Barronelle Stutzman: Why a friend is suing me: the Arlene’s Flowers story (Seattle Times, 2015-11-09)
  • Barronelle Stutzman: Arlene’s Flowers owner disappointed with editorial (Tri-City Herald, 2015-07-21)
  • Barronelle Stutzman: I’m a florist, but I refused to do flowers for my gay friend’s wedding (Washington Post, 2015-05-12)


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