Now that the Supreme Court has released its decision in the case of Jack Phillips, experts have been analyzing the potential impact of the opinion. One case in particular that stands out in the religious liberty discussion is that of Baronelle Stutzman in Arlene’s Flowers v. State of Washington.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who has sued Baronelle Stutzman, has claimed that the decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop will not impact the outcome of Arlene’s Flowers. Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Vice President, Kristen Waggoner, responded to his comments.
“In Masterpiece Cakeshop, the U.S. Supreme Court denounced government hostility toward the religious beliefs about marriage held by creative professionals like Jack Phillips and Barronelle Stutzman. Such hostility exists when the government treats those people of faith worse than other business owners. The state of Washington, acting through its attorney general, has done just that.
“While the attorney general failed to prosecute a business that obscenely berated and discriminated against Christian customers, he has steadfastly—and on his own initiative—pursued unprecedented measures to punish Barronelle not just in her capacity as a business owner but also in her personal capacity. In its Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling, the Supreme Court condemned that sort of one-sided, discriminatory application of the law against people of faith.
“Also, in the legal briefs that the attorney general has filed in Barronelle’s case, he has repeatedly and overtly demeaned her faith. He has compared her religious beliefs about marriage—which the Supreme Court said are ‘decent and honorable’—to racial discrimination. This conflicts with the Supreme Court’s recognition in Masterpiece Cakeshop that it was ‘inappropriate’ for the government to draw parallels between those religious beliefs and ‘defenses of slavery.’
“Barronelle, like Jack, serves all customers but declines to create custom art that expresses messages or celebrates events in conflict with her deeply held religious beliefs. The attorney general’s efforts to punish her because he dislikes her beliefs about marriage are as impermissible as Colorado’s attempt to punish Jack.”
Only time will truly tell how Jack’s case will impact other cases. But the Supreme Court clearly recognized that tolerance and respect for differences of opinion are essential in a pluralistic society like ours. They enable us to peacefully coexist with each other.
Often when the Supreme Court issues a decision on a case and they have been petitioned to hear a similar case, they’ll issue an order to GVR, ‘grant, vacate, and remand.’ That means the decision in the case is vacated, or annulled, and then it’s sent back to a lower court to decide whether the new ruling impacts the case’s outcome. The Court may decide to issue such an order as soon as Thursday, June 7th.