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Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal From Florist Who Refused Service Over Same-Sex Wedding

Jack Phillips

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The Supreme Court on Friday declined to hear an appeal over a florist’s refusal to offer service for a wedding of a same-sex couple, allowing a state court’s ruling that the shop engaged in unlawful discrimination.

The court ruled 6-3 in declining to take it up. At least four justices need to vote in favor of granting a petition to authorize a review of a case. Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Clarence Thomas voted in favor (pdf) of taking the case.

The Supreme Court didn’t provide an explanation for its denial to hear the case, stating, in part: “The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.”

In June, the Washington state Supreme Court issued a ruling against the florist, Barronelle Stutzman, who refused to create a floral arrangement for Robert Ingersoll’s same-sex wedding in 2013.

The state court had “branded Barronelle a ‘discriminator’ and ordered her to attend, facilitate, and create custom floral art celebrating all marriages or none,” Kristen Waggoner, an attorney for Stutzman, had written to the justices.

Stutzman had argued that her floral arrangements were effectively speech that is protected under the First Amendment.

“Like all artists, Barronelle speaks through her custom creations,” Waggoner wrote to the high court and argued that  the floral arrangements as “multimedia works incorporating flowers.”

The Epoch Times has contacted Barronelle’s lawyers for comment following the Supreme Court’s refusal to take the case.

However, lawyers for Ingersoll and Curt Freed, who filed the lawsuit, claimed that Stutzman violated anti-discrimination laws for refusing to make the floral arrangement for the wedding. The attorneys further stipulated that Stutzman is essentially trying to seek a “floral art” exemption to anti-discrimination laws.

“The notion of a First Amendment right to discriminate has been rejected as often as it has been raised,” wrote Ria Tabacco Mar, a lawyer who represented the plaintiffs, to the Supreme Court.

Several weeks ago, the court issued a unanimous ruling that sided with a Catholic adoption agency in Philadelphia that says religious beliefs prevent it from working with same-sex foster parents.

“It is plain that the City’s actions have burdened CSS’s [Catholic Social Services’] religious exercise by putting it to the choice of curtailing its mission or approving relationships inconsistent with its beliefs,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in that ruling. The agency, he added, “seeks only an accommodation that will allow it to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs; it does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else.”