The U.S. Supreme Court left major constitutional questions about religion hanging when it declined to review the case of Arlene’s Flowers v. Washington. The High Court announced last week that it would not review the case of Christian florist Barronelle Stutzman. The non-action of the Supreme Court leaves the decision of the Washington court in place. Washington said that Stutzman violated the Washington anti-discrimination law when she refused to design a floral arrangement for the same-sex wedding of Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed.
According to Fred Lucas, the votes of at least four of the nine justices are required for the Supreme Court to hear any case. There were only three conservative justices interested in hearing the Stutzman case – Justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito. Where were Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh on this important case. Do they lack the backbone or fortitude to rule in tough cases?
Stutzman was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a public interest law firm at fights for religious liberty. Kristen Waggoner, general counsel, made the following statement.
Although the outcome of this case is tragic, the critical work of protecting the First Amendment freedoms of all Americans must continue.
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.
Thankfully, other courts have recognized that the Constitution does not allow this. Unlike the Washington Supreme Court in Barronelle’s case, the Arizona Supreme Court and the 8th Circuit have ruled that the government cannot force creative professionals to create artistic expression that violates their religious beliefs.
We are confident that the Supreme Court will eventually join those courts in affirming the constitutionally protected freedom of creative professionals to live and work consistently with their most deeply held beliefs.
The Supreme Court has made several rulings in favor of religious freedom, but they have been narrow ones that did not set a broad precedent.
· June 2021: the high court ruled 9-0 in the case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. The ruling gave Catholic social service agency in Philadelphia the right to be a government-funded foster care program without compromising its beliefs about marriage.
· In 2018 the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was being hostile toward cake shop owner Jack Phillips’s Christian’s faith when it tried to force him to create a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage.
Emilie Kao, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation noted that “government authorities around the country [are] punishing people for living according to [the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman]. They have misused the law to try and force foster care and adoption agencies, bakers, photographers, and florists to change their views on marriage.”
The Supreme Court will one day be forced to make a ruling because the intolerant left continues to force their way of living upon people who do not care for it. The first settlers to come to America came for religious liberty, and this is why freedom of religion is the First Freedom.
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