The U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear the case of a Christian florist who violated Washington’s anti-discrimination laws when she refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding, which means the case is over and she has — finally and officially — lost.
The case involved Barronelle Stutzman, who, in 2013, refused to provide flowers for the wedding of Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed even though gay marriage was legal in the state. She was fined $1,000 and told she couldn’t discriminate against her customers. So she sued.
In 2018, the Supreme Court punted on taking up the case after the same Washington Supreme Court unanimously ruled against her. At the time, they said selling flowers for a gay wedding was no less an endorsement of homosexuality than flowers for an Islamic or atheist wedding. Stutzman even admitted that herself! If you have no problem selling goods to atheists or divorced people, they essentially argued, then there should be no reason you refuse to do business with gay customers.
Despite not taking up the case themselves, the Supreme Court threw out that ruling and sent the case back to Washington with the instructions to reconsider it in light of the SCOTUS ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop. In that case, a Christian baker didn’t want to provide a cake for a same-sex wedding, and the justices said a Colorado commission overstepped its bounds in punishing him, though they didn’t rule on the general substance of his bigotry. So their instructions to the Washington judges was to reconsider if state officials exhibited any anti-religious bias in their decision.
Thursday’s opinion says that neither the Washington Supreme Court or the lower state court acted with religious animus when they ruled the florist violated the state’s law against discrimination. The opinion says that Stutzman’s refusal to provide flowers to the same-sex couple constituted discrimination against sexual orientation.
Her lawyers once again appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court under the assumption that the right for Christians to discriminate against gay people is the true fight of their religious freedom.
Today, in their final set of orders for the term, the U.S. Supreme Court said it would not hear this case:
As you can see there, Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Samuel Alito disagreed with that decision. Since it takes four votes to hear a case, it means the other six justices felt no need to take this one up. Whatever their reasoning, it’s the right move. There’s no legal ambiguity here. Stutzman was just being a flat-out Christian bigot. She refused to sell a gay customer the very same thing she would’ve sold a straight one. It’s not like the customer was asking for special gay flowers spelling out the words “Homosexuality is the best!” Had he not been gay, he would’ve received the products he wanted to pay for. It’s as simple as that.
But just as we’ve seen in the past, her attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom are very upset that her bigotry wasn’t rewarded with a legal victory:
… No one should be forced to express a message or celebrate an event they disagree with. A government that can crush someone like Barronelle, who kindly served her gay customer for nearly a decade but simply declined to create art celebrating one sacred ceremony, can use its power to crush any of us regardless of our political ideology or views on important issues like marriage…
The whole statement reeks of people shouting “How dare the state be intolerant of her intolerance?!” She wasn’t asked to do anything she wasn’t already doing. No one invited her to the wedding. They wanted to give her money, she decided their gay money wasn’t acceptable, and the state has good reason to prevent that kind of discrimination. There was no hostility involved. Stutzman thought her religion gave her the right to treat certain customers differently. Washington State said that’s not allowed, and now the Supreme Court is going to let that decision stand.
(Screenshot via YouTube. Large portions of this article were published earlier)