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.

Podcast: NFL Player Comes Out, 1st Trans Contestant Heads To Miss USA Pageant

In this episode: the NFL's homophobic email scandal, Pete Buttigieg claps back, and new music from out singer/songwriter Michael Lazar.

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

In this week’s podcast:

• NFL player Carl Nassib of the Las Vegas Raiders comes out as gay

• Supreme Court ruling addresses religious-based foster care programs & same-sex couples

• An accident at a South Florida Pride event results in tragedy

Sesame Street has its first same-sex family

• History as the first transgender contestant heads to the Miss USA pageant

• A glorious new take on the iconic queer anthem ‘I Am What I Am’ – click here for music video

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report

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.

Supreme Court Refuses To Shield Trump Tax Returns

Donald Trump (image via Flickr/WhiteHouse – public domain)

The U.S. Supreme Court denied Donald Trump’s request to delay handing over his tax returns to a New York City prosecutor investigating the Donald for possible criminal charges.

From Reuters:

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the Republican businessman-turned-politician’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Trump issued a statement describing Vance’s investigation as part of “the greatest political witch hunt in the history of our country,” accusing New York Democrats of expending their energy on taking down a political opponent instead of tackling violent crimes.

Read more at Reuters.

SCOTUS Turns Away Attempt To Undermine LGBTQ Parents’ Rights

a lesbian couple with their child
(image via iStock Photo)

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case that could have undercut marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Even with a 6-3 conservative majority on the high court, SCOTUS refused to roll back same-sex marriage rights.

The case, Box v. Henderson, was brought by parents Ruby and Ashlee Henderson in 2015 as a challenge to Indiana’s birth records law. The couple sued when county officials refused to list both on the birth certificate of their son, who was conceived via artificial insemination.

The state of Indiana regularly lists the male spouse on birth certificates in opposite-sex marriages that conceive via anonymous sperm donors even though the husband has no biological link to the child.

But in the case of the Hendersons, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill argued “whenever a birth-mother’s wife gains presumptive ‘parentage’ status, a biological father’s rights and obligations to the child have necessarily been undermined without proper adjudication.”

In his brief to the Supreme Court, Hill wrote that it’s just “common sense” that while “the husband of a birth mother is usually the biological father, the wife of a birth mother is never the biological father.”

But in its 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, which made marriage equality the law of the land, the high court was specific that same-sex couples are entitled to the same “constellation of benefits” of marriage that opposite-sex married couples are afforded. And that includes birth certificates for their children.

(stock photo via Depositphotos)

The Hendersons argued in their original suit that a number of legal issues could arise regarding who could enroll their son in school, ensure he was covered by health insurance, or even speak on the child’s behalf during a medical appointment. Without the legal status conferred by a birth certificate, one of the women would need to formally adopt their son which could cost up to $5,000 in legal fees.

The couple won in federal court in 2016 but Indiana appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld the lower court’s ruling ten months ago. In its unanimous decision, the 7th Circuit cited due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

In other words, just because someone’s a wife, not a husband, doesn’t mean you can deny them marriage rights.

In 2017, the Supreme Court had ruled on the issue of same-sex parents and birth certificates in Pavan v. Smith, in which SCOTUS found in favor of a same-sex couple who had also conceived through assisted reproduction.

Since that time, SCOTUS refused to hear a similar case in 2018 from Arizona where a lesbian couple sued for legal recognition of the birth mother’s wife as a parent after using an anonymous sperm donor to conceive.

With the Supreme Court’s refusal to review the case today, the lower court rulings will stand.

Karen Celestino-Horseman, the attorney for the Hendersons, told The Indianapolis Star they were “delighted” about the Supreme Court’s decision.

“It’s a major victory that is going to keep the same-sex families together, and the children born to these marriages will have two parents to love and protect them,” added Celestino-Horseman.

Cathy Sakimura, Deputy Director and Family Law Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), said in a statement today, “The Supreme Court rightly denied this case because it has already clearly decided that same-sex spouses and different-sex spouses must be treated equally.”

Solicitor General Tom Fisher, speaking for the Indiana Attorney General’s office, issued a lame “We are disappointed the Court declined to take up the case.”

Supreme Court Rejects Texas AG’s Attempt To Undo 2020 Election

Fifty-four percent of Americans believe Donald Trump should be impeached

Fifty-four percent of Americans believe Donald Trump should be impeached

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined a bid from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to nullify the ballots of millions of voters in four battleground states that went in favor of President-Elect Joe Biden.

From the Washington Post:

The court’s unsigned order was short: “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.”

Trump, who has appointed three of the court’s nine members, has long viewed the Supreme Court as something of an ace-in-the-hole, and called for the justices to display “courage” and rescue him in post-election litigation.

Just about every legal expert with two brain cells to spark together predicted this would be the outcome for Paxtons’ woeful attempt to curry favor with Trump.

Many of the 100+ Republican members of Congress who publicly supported the woeful attempt have said off the record that they knew the lawsuit wouldn’t go anywhere but they felt it was a “loyalty test” to the Trumpster and wanted to avoid any future fire from the Donald.

Paxton is currently under federal investigation himself, and many say he was trying to finagle a presidential pardon with his leg humping.