The Supreme Court may take on a case this week about whether artists can be forced to provide services for same-sex weddings.
Earlier this month, the court ruled on the case involving a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex marriage. The court ruled in favor of the baker.
Last week, justices meet for a private case to discuss another case involving the rights of artists to provide services based on their religious beliefs.
This case involves a dispute between Arlene’s Flowers, its owner Barronelle Stutzman, and a gay couple, Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed.
The Washington Supreme Court ruled that Stutzman violated the state civil rights law when she refused to make floral arrangements for Ingersoll and Freed’s wedding in 2013.
Stutzman appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court and in July 2017, the justices discussed the case in a private conference, but priority went to the case with the Colorado baker.
In that ruling, the Supreme Court said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated baker Jack Phillips’ rights because the commission acted with “hostility.” The court, however, did not answer the question whether religious beliefs are a valid reason for rejecting products or services.
The Supreme Court could decide to hear the new case between Arlene’s Flowers and Ingersoll and Freed. The court also could decline the case or send it back to the state courts for a rehearing.
Stutzman’s lawyers are asking that the Washington Supreme Court decision be thrown out and the case be sent back for a rehearing in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Colorado baker case.
“That would allow the state courts to consider the evidence of government hostility toward the faith of Barronelle Stutzman,” lawyers for Stutzman wrote in court filings.
Lawyers for Ingersoll and Freed, however say they want the Supreme Court to decline the case.
“We strongly disagree there’s evidence of religious bias,” Elizabeth Gill, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU, said.
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Publication date: June 18, 2018