A Final Chance for SCOTUS to Deliver Justice for Barronelle Stutzman

Jul 31, 2021 by

By Ryan T. Anderson & Robert P. George, National Review:

The Supreme Court of the United States has a final chance to deliver justice for Barronelle Stutzman. Let us explain.

On July 2, the Supreme Court of the United States formally declined to review Arlene’s Flowers, Inc. v. Washington — the case of Barronelle Stutzman, a Washington florist who politely declined to put her artistic talents in the service of creating custom floral arrangements for Rob Ingersoll’s same-sex wedding. She did so not out of spite or “prejudice.” She was friends with Ingersoll and sold him whatever flowers he wanted to purchase for whatever reasons he wanted them — no questions asked — for ten years. She did so out of principle. Her religious beliefs commit her not only to love others but also to only celebrate what her faith teaches her are true marriages — those between a man and a woman.

Nonetheless, Stutzman was sued by Washington State and then by Ingersoll — represented by the ACLU — in 2013. She eventually lost at the Washington supreme court. Fast forward about eight years, and it looks like her last chance for legal justice has all but ended.

And at what cost? For Stutzman, it’s enormous. It’s bad enough that she must operate her business in fear of being targeted by other lawsuits, and she can no longer provide floral arrangements for weddings, which was an important source of her income. But she may now also be on the hook for what could be over a million-dollar attorney-fee payment to the ACLU. Even worse, it was not merely Stutzman’s business that was sued. She was sued in her personal capacity. That means this 77-year-old grandmother must pay that enormous attorney-fee award out of her personal assets — her checking account, her house, her retirement, her savings for her children and grandchildren. And for what? Earnestly, politely, and humbly living out her faith.

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