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

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Description:  Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the American Civil Liberties Union sued floral artist Barronelle Stutzman after she declined, because of her faith, to personally participate in—or design custom floral arrangements celebrating—the same-sex wedding of a customer she had served for nearly 10 years.

Broad support for floral artist’s freedom as case heads back to US Supreme Court

Numerous briefs ask high court to take Barronelle Stutzman’s case after Washington court minimizes previous Supreme Court decision
Wednesday, October 16, 2019

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 17 states, 43 members of Congress, and a variety of legal experts and religious groups.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing floral artist and 74-year-old great grandmother Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, asked the U.S. Supreme Court last month to take her case after the Washington Supreme Court ruled against her in June. The U.S. Supreme Court vacated the state high court’s previous ruling against Stutzman and ordered it to reconsider her case in light of last year’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. The state court came back with the same result, repeating verbatim much of what it said in its original decision.

That ruling gives the U.S. Supreme Court an opportunity to resolve many important legal issues left unanswered after Masterpiece Cakeshop and to reaffirm that the First Amendment protects the freedom of Americans to hold different views about topics as fundamental as marriage.

“Barronelle serves and hires people from all walks of life. What she can’t do is take part in—or create custom floral arrangements celebrating—sacred events that violate her religious beliefs. The briefs filed with the Supreme Court affirm that principle,” said ADF Senior Vice President of U.S. Legal Division Kristen Waggoner, who argued on Stutzman’s behalf before the Washington Supreme Court in 2016 and who also argued for Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips before the U.S. Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop. “The Washington Supreme Court upheld a ruling that threatens Barronelle with personal and professional ruin. Regardless of what one believes about marriage, no creative professional should be forced to create art or participate in a ceremony that violates their core convictions.”

Washington’s highest court confined the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision by saying that the U.S. Supreme Court’s condemnation of government hostility toward religion applies only to “adjudicatory bodies” and does not apply to executive-branch officials like the Washington attorney general. ADF attorneys explain in their petition filed last month that such a narrow view of religious freedom is wrong.

The Washington court’s ruling also conflicts with U.S. Supreme Court and other court precedents by allowing the government to force individuals to participate in sacred ceremonies that violate their faith and by empowering state officials to compel artists to create custom work celebrating events to which they object.

As the friend-of-the-court brief filed by 17 states explains, “just like other works of art, Stutzman’s custom wedding floral arrangements are inherently expressive. And in contrast to the court below, other courts have concluded similar artistic expressions enjoy First Amendment protections and that the government may not compel their creation under the guise of a generally applicable anti-discrimination law. See Telescope Media Grp. v. Lucero, … (8th Cir. 2019); Brush & Nib Studio, LC v. City of Phoenix, … (Ariz. Sup. Ct. September 16, 2019). Consequently, Stutzman’s custom wedding floral arrangements are entitled to at least the same protection that this Court and lower courts have long afforded music, video games, nonsensical poetry, dancing, and abstract painting.” [hyperlinks added]

“Ms. Stutzman regularly serves and hires LGBT individuals…,” the brief filed by members of Congress notes. “Ms. Stutzman’s petition...focuses on her customized wedding pieces—artistic expression that is wholly different from the vast majority of commercial products and services sold by public businesses and individuals throughout the country. This Court thus can rule for Ms. Stutzman without calling into question anti-discrimination laws.”

In addition to giving the Washington attorney general a pass for religious hostility because he is not a judge, the Washington Supreme Court opinion did not address anything that Masterpiece Cakeshop—and other recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, including National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra and Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31—had to say about free speech and expression.

In the Masterpiece case, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Colorado’s decision to punish Jack Phillips for living and working consistently with his religious beliefs about marriage, just as Stutzman has been trying to do while enduring lawsuits from the Washington attorney general and the American Civil Liberties Union. The two sued Stutzman after she declined, because of her faith, to personally participate in—and design custom floral arrangements celebrating—the same-sex wedding of a customer she had served for nearly 10 years.

Rather than take part in an event that violates her faith, Stutzman referred Robert Ingersoll, whom she considers a friend, to several nearby florists. The two then discussed his wedding plans, they hugged, and Ingersoll left. He never filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office. The attorney general chose to pursue Stutzman only because of news reports based on social media posts.

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
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Previous news releases:

  • 2019-09-11: Floral artist asks US Supreme Court to protect her freedom
  • 2019-06-06: Floral artist heads back to US Supreme Court to protect her freedom
  • 2018-11-13: Floral artist to Washington Supreme Court: ‘I serve all customers; I just can’t celebrate all events’
  • 2018-06-25: US Supreme Court sends floral artist case back to Washington court in light of Masterpiece decision
  • 2018-06-05: ADF, floral artist respond to Washington AG regarding impact of Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling
  • 2017-08-22: Broad support for artistic freedom reflected in numerous briefs at Supreme Court
  • 2017-07-14: Washington 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

  • Kristen Waggoner: Justices should use florist case to settle free speech issues (Law360, 2019-11-20)
  • Barronelle Stutzman: Christian florist: My longtime customer was a friend, then he sued me over his gay wedding (USA Today, 2019-10-08)
  • Barronelle Stutzman: Your religious liberty is in danger if I lose mine in a same-sex wedding court case (Fox News, 2019-09-28)
  • Kristen Waggoner: Why Barronelle Stutzman’s case might resolve questions left open in Masterpiece Cakeshop (National Review, 2019-09-17)
  • Jake Warner: Washington state is ignoring Supreme Court precedent—and mistreating Christians (Daily Caller, 2019-09-13)
  • John Bursch: How Masterpiece Cakeshop fell short (Wall Street Journal, 2019-06-20)
  • John Bursch: Washington state may have triggered the next major religious liberty case (Daily Signal, 2019-06-12)
  • Kristen Waggoner: Floral artist has good reason to head back to Supreme Court (Washington Examiner, 2019-06-11)
  • Jonathan Scruggs: Arlene’s Flowers case no way to settle disputes (Tri-City Herald, 2018-12-10)
  • James Gottry: Washington state, ACLU aren’t letting up in crusade against florist’s religious liberty (Daily Signal, 2018-11-15)
  • Barronelle Stutzman: My state turned my life upside down because of my religious beliefs (Gospel Coalition, 2018-07-02)
  • Barronelle Stutzman: Washington state florist: My life has been turned upside down because of my religious beliefs (Fox News, 2018-06-29)
  • Chris Potts: Here’s why the florist and the baker aren’t like the Red Hen’s owner (PoliZette, 2018-06-28)
  • Jessica Prol Smith: A tale of two business owners (Daily Wire, 2018-06-27)
  • Kristen Waggoner: Floral artist faced same intolerance as Jack Phillips (National Review, 2018-06-25)
  • 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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