SCOTUS Declines To Hear Appeal For Anti-LGBTQ Florist

Gay couple dances after getting married
Gay couple dances after getting married
(stock image via Depositphotos)

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by anti-LGBTQ florist Barronelle Stutzman of Washington state who refused to sell flowers to a same-sex couple for their wedding.

Stutzman’s petition is listed on Friday’s orders list indicating the high court had denied certiorari, or refused to take up the case. No reason was given although the orders note that Justice Thomas, Justice Alito, and Justice Gorsuch would have granted the petition to hear the case. In the Supreme Court, at least four justices have to agree to take up a case.

The decision means the ruling by the Washington Supreme Court will stand.

The sad story began in 2013 when Rob Ingersoll and Curt Freed, longtime customers of Arlene’s Flowers owned by Stutzman, approached the florist for flowers for their dream wedding. Stutzman refused claiming doing so would violate her religious beliefs.

In 2017, the case had made its way up to the Washington state high court which ruled Stutzman had violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws which prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people in public accommodations. The florist was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

Stutzman appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 wherein SCOTUS vacated the lower court’s decision and asked the Washington court to review the case in light of a narrow ruling in the case of Jack Phillips, owner of the Colorado bakery Masterpiece Cakeshop.

A year later, in June 2019, the Washington Supreme Court reaffirmed its decision finding there had been no animosity involved against Stutzman in the original ruling.

Today’s decision is the end of the road in terms of legal options for Stutzman.


“After Curt and I were turned away from our local flower shop, we cancelled the plans for our dream wedding because we were afraid it would happen again. We had a small ceremony at home instead,” Ingersoll told ABC News in a statement. “We hope this decision sends a message to other LGBTQ people that no one should have to experience the hurt that we did.”

Alphonso David, president of Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement, “The Supreme Court has once again said that critical nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people are legally enforceable and has set a strong and definitive precedent.”

Kristen Waggoner, general counsel for the virulently anti-LGBTQ legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, called the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case “tragic.”

This is the third high profile LGBTQ-related case addressed by the Supreme Court.

In June, SCOTUS issued a unanimous but very narrow ruling in favor of Catholic Social Services (CSS) in Philadelphia which had refused to certify same-sex couples who applied to become foster parents.

The ruling was not the broad ‘license to discriminate’ anti-LGBTQ advocates had hoped for. Instead, the justices found in favor of CSS because the city hadn’t applied its own policy of exemptions uniformly. The decision only applies to CSS and its contract with Philadelphia.

And earlier this week, SCOTUS also rejected to hear an appeal by a Virginia school board seeking ban transgender students from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity. That decision sets precedent regarding restroom discrimination in schools in at least five states.

(Source: ABC News)

Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Voting Restrictions

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s new voting restrictions in a 6-3 ruling today.

From the New York Times:

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld voting restrictions in Arizona and signaled that challenges to new state laws making it harder to vote would face a hostile reception from a majority of the justices.

The vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal members in dissent.

The new case, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, No. 19-1257, concerned two kinds of voting restrictions in Arizona. One required election officials to discard ballots cast at the wrong precinct. The other made it a crime for campaign workers, community activists and most other people to collect ballots for delivery to polling places, a practice critics call “ballot harvesting.” The law made exceptions for family members, caregivers and election officials.

Read the full article here.

SCOTUS Declines To Hear Challenge To Trans Bathroom Rights

The Supreme Court building in Washington DC

The Supreme Court building in Washington DC

The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by a Virginia school board that hoped to reinstate its transgender bathroom ban.

That decision leaves in place lower court rulings that found the policy unconstitutional.

From the New York Times:

An appeals court had ruled that the policy violated the Constitution and a federal law by prohibiting the student, Gavin Grimm, from using the same bathrooms as other boys. The school said Mr. Grimm could use a private bathroom.

The Supreme Court had agreed to hear an earlier appeal in the case but dismissed it in 2017 after the Trump administration changed the federal government’s position on transgender rights. The Biden administration has since adopted policies protecting transgender students.

What this means: there is now strong precedent that schools in the 4th Circuit (Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia) cannot prohibit students from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.

Last year, the Supreme Court for the first time ruled in favor of transgender rights, saying that a federal employment discrimination law applied to LGBTQ workers.

Affordable Care Act Survives (Again!) At Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court (2021)
The U.S. Supreme Court (2021)
The U.S. Supreme Court (2021)

For the third time now, the Affordable Care Act has survived a legal challenge at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Despite relentless attacks from Republicans and previous cases in 2012 and 2015, the law has only gained in popularity with Americans.

Today’s ruling didn’t address the central question of whether the law could stand without the individual mandate which was removed from the law in 2017. Instead, the high court sidestepped the issue ruling the plaintiffs had no standing to bring the case.

From the New York Times:

The margin of victory was wider than in the earlier cases, with six members of the court joining Justice Stephen G. Breyer’s modest and technical majority opinion, one that said only that the 18 Republican-led states and two individuals who brought the case had not suffered the sort of direct injury that gave them standing to sue.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who had cast the decisive vote to save the law in 2012, was in the majority. So was Justice Clarence Thomas, who had dissented in the earlier decisions.

“Whatever the act’s dubious history in this court,” Justice Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion, “we must assess the current suit on its own terms. And, here, there is a fundamental problem with the arguments advanced by the plaintiffs in attacking the act — they have not identified any unlawful action that has injured them. Today’s result is thus not the consequence of the court once again rescuing the act, but rather of us adjudicating the particular claims the plaintiffs chose to bring.”

Striking down the Affordable Care Act would have added nearly 21 million people to the list of uninsured in the country. Among those are folks who are now eligible for Medicaid, young adults who can stay on their parents’ plans until 26, and Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Supreme Court Sidesteps LGBTQ Case Between TX & CA

The U.S. Supreme Court (2021)
The U.S. Supreme Court (2021)
The U.S. Supreme Court (2021)

I guess you could call this a “win by default…”

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up a legal argument between California and Texas centered on ‘religious beliefs’ trumping LGBTQ rights.

From USA Today:

The Supreme Court declined Monday to take up a heated dispute between one of the nation’s most liberal states and one of its most conservative in a case that had pit freedom of religion against gay rights.

California passed a law in 2016 prohibiting taxpayer-funded travel – such as for state employees to attend conferences – to any state that doesn’t ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Texas law allows foster-care and adoption agencies to deny same-sex couples on religious grounds.

Texas took California directly to the Supreme Court last year, asserting the travel ban was “born of religious animus” and that it violates the Constitution.

Conservatives Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas issued a dissent over the court not taking the case because of course.