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Florist again asks High Court to consider her case

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WASHINGTON — Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Richland, Wash., florist shop owner Barronelle Stutzman on Sept. 11 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take her case after the Washington Supreme Court ruled against her in June.

The U.S. Supreme Court had vacated the state high court’s previous ruling against Stutzman and ordered it to reconsider her case in light of last year’s decision regarding a Colorado business, Masterpiece Cakeshop. The Washington state court came back with the same result, repeating much of what it said in its original decision.

According to Stutzman’s attourneys, 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.

In the Colorado case, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed that state’s decision to punish Jack Phillips for living and working consistently with his religious beliefs about marriage, as Stutzman has been trying to do while facing lawsuits from the Washington attorney general and the American Civil Liberties Union. Both sued Stutzman after she declined, because of her faith, to design floral arrangements celebrating the same-sex wedding of a longtime customer.

“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 Kristen Waggoner, who argued on Stutzman’s behalf before the Washington Supreme Court in 2016 and who also argued for Phillips before the U.S. Supreme Court. “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. Stutzman’s attorneys contend that other court decisions say the exact opposite.