Supreme Court Won't Hear Case of Anti-Gay Marriage Florist

Supreme Court Won't Hear Case of Anti-Gay Marriage Florist

Supreme Court Won't Hear Case of Anti-Gay Marriage Florist

The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the Washington state courts to take a new look at the case of a florist from Richland who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.

In an order released Monday, the high court sent the case back for further hearing in light of its decision in a Wisconsin case last week. The governments, and the court's liberals, said American Express was restricting competition in violation of federal antitrust law. The other dealt with religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws for opponents of same-sex marriage.

LEVITT: What any other state can take from today's decision is that if I intend to discriminate, a court may nip and tuck a bit.

Early a year ago, the state justices ruled unanimously that the owner of Arlene's Flowers, Barronelle Stutzman, unlawfully discriminated when she declined for religious reasons to provide flower arrangements for the wedding of two local men.

Though he did not find one in that case, he signaled his openness to striking down extreme partisan gerrymanders if the court could agree on a standard to do so.

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In that case, the justices, by a 7-2 vote, ruled narrowly for a Colorado baker, but without deciding whether he had a right to refuse service to two men who were preparing to celebrate their marriage.

The state and the couple sued Stutzman in 2013, accusing her of violating the state anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws.

"The court today does great damage to that right of equal opportunity", Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote. In the case, Abbott v. Perez, the court had to decide whether to overturn a Texas state court's decision concerning congressional and state political districts redrawn after the 2010 census. The two sued Stutzman after she declined, because of her faith, to design custom floral arrangements celebrating the same-sex wedding of a customer she had served for almost 10 years.

"The US Supreme Court has rightfully asked the Washington Supreme Court to reconsider Barronelle's case in light of the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision". "I am confident they will come to the same conclusion they did in their previous, unanimous ruling upholding the civil rights of same-sex couples in our state".

Like the baker, Stutzman is represented by the conservative Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom, while the gay couples in both cases are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. In contrast, however, Ferguson has steadfastly-and 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, threatening her personal assets, including her life savings. Although the florist's lawyers assert that there was hostility to her religious beliefs from the fact that the state enforced its nondiscrimination law, there is no evidence of hostility towards religious beliefs in the case. And he says the language of the decision would seem to make it far more hard to punish a recalcitrant state by putting it back under federal supervision for the next decade - a Voting Rights Act provision the Supreme Court left intact five years ago.

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