Washington Supreme Court Will Hear Case Over Floral Artist’s Freedom

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to hear the case of floral artist Barronelle Stutzman, whom the state attorney general and the American Civil Liberties Union sued for acting consistently with her faith. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Stutzman filed a brief with the high court last month to challenge the state’s and the ACLU’s arguments in favor of government discrimination against her.

A lower court ruled that Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, must pay penalties and attorneys’ fees for declining to use her artistic abilities to design custom floral arrangements for a long-time customer’s same-sex ceremony. Rather than participate in the ceremony, Stutzman referred Rob Ingersoll, whom she considers a friend and had served for nearly 10 years, to several other florists in the area who would provide high-quality arrangements and wedding support.

“Barronelle and many others like her around the country have been willing to serve any and all customers, but they are understandably not willing to promote any and all messages,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner. “We hope the Washington Supreme Court will affirm the broad protections that both the U.S. Constitution and the Washington Constitution afford to freedom of speech and conscience.”

“No one should face personal and professional ruin simply for exercising these foundational freedoms,” added ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Americans clearly oppose unjust government actions that force people to create expression against their will.”