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

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Tuesday, September 17, 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.

Floral artist asks US Supreme Court to protect her freedom

Barronelle Stutzman goes back to high court after Washington court minimizes previous Supreme Court decision, affirms ruling that threatens to bankrupt her
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

WASHINGTON – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing floral artist and 74-year-old great grandmother Barronelle Stutzman asked the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday 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,” 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. “Because of this, 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. That’s why we have taken Barronelle’s case back to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

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. As ADF attorneys explain in their petition in Arlene’s Flowers v. State of Washington and Arlene’s Flowers v. Ingersoll, other court decisions say the exact opposite.

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.

“These First Amendment violations must stop,” the ADF petition filed Wednesday states. “Absent this Court’s review, government officials will keep dragging reasonable and sincere people of faith like Barronelle through the courts, imposing ruinous judgments, and barring them from their professions simply because they hold disfavored views about marriage. Religious people should be free to live out their beliefs about marriage. But states like Washington afford that freedom only to people who support same-sex marriage, while stripping it from Barronelle and others like her.” [citations omitted]

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, ADF attorneys point out. As the petition explains, those opinions provide strong support for Stutzman’s claim that states can’t force creative professionals who serve everyone to participate in and celebrate sacred events that violate their faith.

“This case is an ideal opportunity for the U.S. Supreme Court to reaffirm that the First Amendment protects people who continue to believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” said ADF Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch. “Particularly at a time when society is becoming more confrontational and less civil, it is critical that the courts honor the rights of citizens to speak and act freely, including those who strive to live consistently with their faith.”

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.

As the ADF petition notes, “Barronelle’s compassionate response epitomizes how Americans with differing marriage beliefs can peacefully coexist,” but “the State brought all its power down on Barronelle, seeking to compel her to create art against her conscience. The Attor­ney General concocted a one-of-a-kind lawsuit, prompt­ing others to threaten and harass her. Yet the Attorney General did not investigate, demand assurances, or file suit when a gay coffee-shop owner berated and booted a group of Christians from his store based on religious views they expressed on a public street.”

The petition continues: “Barronelle now stands to lose nearly everything she owns…. Only this Court can resolve the numerous First Amendment conflicts these issues have created, restore the balance that the Constitution requires, and set precedent that will protect people across the political spectrum in present and future cultural debates.”

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

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Previous news releases:

  • 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: 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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