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Supreme Court declines to hear appeal of florist who refused same-sex wedding

By
Kyle Barnett
Members of the U.S. Supreme Court pose for a group photo at the court in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Seated, from left to right, are Associate Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Standing, from left to right, are Associate Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett. Pool Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI | License Photo

July 2 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday decided not to hear an appeal from a Washington state florist who refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding -- leaving in place a lower court ruling that said she broke anti-discrimination law.

Washington courts previously ruled against Arlene's Flowers owner Barronelle Stutzman and the state high court affirmed the decisions. Stutzman, who refused to provide floral services for a wedding between Rob Ingersoll and Curt Freed, took the case to the nation's high court.

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Only three justices -- Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch -- voted to hear the appeal. A minimum of four are required for the court to hear a case.

Stutzman initially filed the suit several years ago after she was sued by Washington state and the ACLU for refusing services to same sex couples. She refused on the grounds that same-sex unions violate her beliefs as a Southern Baptist.

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Stutzman also argued that her floral arrangements are works of art and should be exempt from Washington's discrimination laws.

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The U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 took up the case on appeal and ordered Washington courts to take another look at the issue. The Washington Supreme Court ultimately found the state law to be constitutional.

"Religious people should be free to live out their beliefs about marriage," Stutzman's attorneys said in asking the high court to hear the case, according to NBC News.

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Attorneys for the state argued that Stutzman's flower shop refuses to make any flower arrangement for same-sex couples, even if it's identical to those made for heterosexual couples.

"It is thus clear that their objection is not to any 'message' sent by the flowers themselves, but rather to the message they perceive would be sent by serving a gay couple," state attorneys told the high court, according to NBC News.

Stutzman's case is similar to that of Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who won a Supreme Court ruling on the same issue in 2018.

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The difference between the two rulings is that in Phillips' case, the Supreme Court ruled that there was religious animosity from a Colorado civil rights commission -- something that it clearly felt was not present in Stutzman's case. The Washington Supreme Court ruled that there was no such animosity.

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In his case, Phillips argued that baking a cake is an art and that requiring him to provide services for a same-sex wedding cake would violate his faith and constitutional rights.

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