U.S. Supreme Court sends Richland florist case back to state

Barronelle Stutzman center a Richland Wash. florist who was fined for denying service to a gay couple in 2013 smiles as she is surrounded by supporters Nov. 15 2016 in Bellevue Wash

U.S. Supreme Court sends Richland florist case back to state

The U.S. Supreme Court cited its recent decision earlier this month in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

Washington state's Supreme Court past year rejected Stutzman's argument that forcing her to create floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding would violate her free speech rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and would be tantamount to endorsing same-sex marriage.

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled on two highly anticipated gerrymandering cases in Texas and North Carolina, in orders that mean most of the controversial maps in both states will likely be used this fall's midterm elections. Instead, the majority ruled that the state's Civil Rights Commission showed open hostility toward the issues of religious freedom presented in the case and did not behave as a neutral arbiter of antidiscrimination and public accommodation laws, which is its role. As a Christian, she believes that marriage is between one man and one woman, and while she gladly served Robert Ingersoll for decades, she would not sell him flowers specifically for his same-sex wedding.

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In a statement today after the court's ruling, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the decision "restored the rule of law to the redistricting process". That ruling was then unanimously upheld by the state's nine supreme court justices.

The Washington Supreme Court ruled past year that the government may force Christians to serve same-sex "weddings", and in July 2017, the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissent, joined by the three other justices in the liberal wing of the court, that said the decision "selectively parses through the facts" and comes at a serious cost to democracy. The legal challenge to President Donald Trump's travel ban on visitors from five mainly Muslim countries is the biggest case pending.

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The state of Washington had argued there was no religious animosity in the court proceedings involving Stutzman and her flower shop, Arlene's Flowers.

Stutzman, 73, however, had served Robert Ingersoll, a gay man, for almost 10 years and had become friends with him.

Stutzman told reporters on the news conference call she is "very thankful and grateful" the high court has allowed her case to continue. She was hit with a $1,000 fine and directed to make floral arrangements for same-sex weddings if she does so for opposite-sex weddings. State of Washington and Arlene's Flowers v. Ingersoll.

"In that ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court denounced government hostility toward the religious beliefs about marriage held by create professionals", she said. Her home, business, savings and personal assets are all at risk in the case.

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