SCOTUS Decision Sends Arlene's Flowers Case Back to Lower Court

The Supreme Court signaled Monday that it is unwilling to immediately answer whether a business owner's religious beliefs can justify refusing gay couples seeking wedding services. The state attorney general sought to severely punish her with crippling fines to drive her out of business and even sued her personally, which could result in her home being taken away.

Monday morning's Supreme Court order states that it has vacated the Washington Supreme Court's original decision against Stutzman, and ordered the State Supreme Court to further consider the case "in light of" the Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling.

The Alliance Defending Freedom represented both Phillips and Stutzman.

Two cases presented the court with the opportunity to decide issues left open by recent rulings. Washington state ruled that Arlene's Flowers could not decline to provide its arrangements for same-sex weddings under the state's public accommodation laws.

Ferguson, meanwhile said according to the Associated Press he's "confident" the Washington State Supreme Court "will come to the same conclusion they did in their previous, unanimous ruling upholding the civil rights of same-sex couples in our state". It noted that Stutzman said furnishing flowers for a Muslim or atheist wedding wouldn't necessarily constitute an endorsement of Islam or atheists.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the American Civil Liberties Union sued Stutzman after she declined the request of a couple she had served for almost 10 years. The state court will now re-examine Stutzman's case for any evidence of anti-religious bias. But she declined to sell to him for a same-sex wedding, arguing that would amount to her putting her imprimatur on the ceremony, which would violate her religious beliefs.

"To be clear, the court made no indication the lower courts ruled incorrectly and made no decision on the case's merits". The court sided with the baker on narrow grounds, ruling the Colorado Civil Rights Commission treated him unfairly when it first heard the case.

Because the decision reverses a lower court ruling that said lawmakers intentionally discriminated against minorities, voting rights experts say this case can not lead to the state being "bailed-in" under the Voting Rights Act. She could not help celebrate her friend's wedding because it would violate her convictions.

The United States Supreme Court will not hear Brendan Dassey's appeal. Stutzman had previously served the customer's every other request for years, and has employed homosexual workers, but her Christian faith compelled her to draw a distinction between serving all individuals and lending her artistic endorsement to celebrations of homosexuality.

  • Gwendolyn Kim