US Supreme Court rejects appeal by florist who refused to serve same-sex couple
Per the order list published Friday, the US Supreme Court declined an appeal from a Washington State-based florist who refused to sell flowers to a same-sex couple. The Court did not issue an opinion with the rejection.
The petitioner, Barronelle Stutzman, denied service to Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, a couple who planned to get married in 2013. Stutzman cited her long-held Christian beliefs as the main motive behind the refusal of service. The American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Ria Tabacco Mar, representing Mr. Ingersoll and Mr. Freed, released a celebratory statement: “No one should walk into a store and have to wonder whether they will be turned away because of who they are. Preventing that kind of humiliation and hurt is exactly why we have nondiscrimination laws.”
Back in 2017, the Washington Supreme Court ruled against Ms. Stutzman, finding that she had violated a state anti-discrimination law through her refusal to sell goods to the couple. Stutzman relied on exemptions to permit discrimination in public accommodations, none of which were applied. In rejecting these exemptions, the court emphasized Ingersoll and Freed’s statements that the “case [was] no more about access to flowers than civil rights cases in the 1960s were about access to sandwiches.”
After the Supreme court decided the Colorado case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission in 2018, the Supreme Court remanded Stutzman’s case back to Washington for a new review. After review in 2019, the court again ruled for the couple, stating Stutzman did not have a constitutional right to ignore state law prohibiting public businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation. The court also mentioned that no religious bias factored into the decision of this matter.
While Ingersoll and Freed claim they have been painfully impacted by this event, Stutzman’s lawyers claim that the decision violated her First Amendment rights. Stutzman and her team are expected to appeal.