When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Christian baker Jack Phillips (Masterpiece Cakeshop), fellow Christians hoped the decision would also protect other Christian business owners who don’t want to provide services for homosexual “weddings.” But the court narrowly tailored the decision to apply only to Phillips, whom they contended had been treated unfairly by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
In a move that seemed positive, the Supreme Court vacated a Washington State Supreme Court decision against a Christian florist and asked the state court to reconsider the arguments in light of its decision in Phillips’s case.
Barronelle Stutzman was friends with one of the homosexuals who later sued her for refusing to provide flower arrangements for his “wedding.” Like Phillips, Stutzman served all kinds of people but refused to use her artistic talents to participate in what God calls a sin.
Unfortunately for freedom, the state’s highest court ruled against Stutzman last week. She’s appealed to the Supreme Court — again — and hopes this time the justices will hear her case and rule in favor of religious freedom. From Stutzman’s legal counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom:
Washington’s highest court read the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision as narrowly as possible, saying that the U.S. Supreme Court’s condemnation of government hostility toward religion applies only to adjudicatory bodies and no other branch of government. As ADF attorneys explain, other U.S. Supreme Court decisions say the exact opposite. In fact, Stutzman’s argument that the state attorney general showed hostility toward religion is what caused the U.S. Supreme Court to send the case back in the first place.
n addition to giving Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson a free pass for religious hostility because he is not a judge, the Washington Supreme Court opinion ignored everything else that Masterpiece Cakeshop—and more recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions like National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra and Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31—had to say about free speech and expression, ADF attorneys point out. Those opinions provide strong support for Stutzman’s claim indicate that states can’t force creative professionals who serve everyone to celebrate events or express messages that violate their faith.
It’s time for the nation’s highest court, interpreter of the U.S. Constitution, to rule definitively that the First Amendment protects Christian business owners who decline to participate in or provide services for any kind of ceremony or celebration that violates the tenets of their faith.