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

Supreme Court sends back case of a Christian florist who refused to work a same-sex wedding

The Washington state Supreme Court now will reconsider the case, which involved a floral artist - Barronelle Stutzman - who had declined to design a floral arrangement for a same-sex couple.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case of Wisconsin man Brendan Dassey, whose lawyers argued that his confession to a 2007 murder was coerced.

Wisconsin said the state court followed Supreme Court precedent by looking at the totality of the circumstances and denied that investigators had fed Dassey facts of the crime to which he confessed. "The state of Washington, acting through its attorney general, has shown similar hostility here". In delivering the court's opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy said states are well within their power to enact anti-discrimination measures in public accommodations laws, but laws must be fairly enforced.

The high court ruled 5-4 in favor of American Express, allowing it to continue to bar merchants from steering customers to cards with lower fees.

In a statement earlier this month, Stutzman said that she serves all customers, but can not create products for events that conflict with her deeply held religious beliefs.

In Stutzman's case, the Washington State Supreme Court must now interpret whether she was treated fairly when the court first heard her case. But it passed on deciding the big issue in the case, whether a business can invoke religious objections to refuse service to gay and lesbians.

"This conflicts with the Supreme Court's recognition in Masterpiece Cakeshop that it was "inappropriate" for the government to draw parallels between those religious beliefs and 'defenses of slavery'".




When Dassey appealed to federal court, a magistrate ruled in his favor, and a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit upheld the decision on a 2-to-1 vote.

"The Supreme Court today asked the Washington courts to re-examine our clients' case in light of the recent decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop", said James Esseks, director of ACLU's LGBT and HIV Project, in a statement. In a statement, the group said the court's ruling will perpetuate a system that it says costs merchants and consumers billions of dollars each year.

Though he did not find one in that case, he signaled his openness to striking down extreme partisan gerrymanders if the court could agree on a standard to do so.

The court chose to send this case back down the chain for a lower court to reconsider. That narrow ruling did not touch on the main issues of free speech and religious exemptions to anti-discrimination law.

Washington's attorney general, Robert Ferguson, said Stutzman was seeking a rule "that would allow every tattoo parlor, print shop, hair salon, photography studio, bakery, law firm, or other business whose work involves a degree of "expression" to discriminate against customers".

"The hostility with which Bob Ferguson has treated Barronelle in unprecedented ways for his office do not bode well", Waggoner said.

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