US Supreme Court kicks same-sex discrimination case back to Washington


Monday morning's Supreme Court order states that it has vacated the Washington Supreme Court's original decision against Stutzman, and ordered the State Supreme Court to further consider the case "in light of" the Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling. In that case, the Court ruled instead that the state had violated the baker's religious freedoms by its openly hostile treatment of his religious beliefs as he progressed through the system.

"The court rightly recognized that the Constitution protects the right of Texans to draw their own legislative districts, and rejected the misguided efforts by unelected federal judges to wrest control of Texas elections from Texas voters", Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement. Washington courts will review the florist's case for similar issues. In an unprecedented show of religious hostility, the state's chief law enforcer, Bob Ferguson personally disparaged her by comparing her biblical beliefs on marriage to racial discrimination. Justice Samuel Alito said in the Court's decision that there was not enough evidence to say that the Texas legislature intentionally discriminated when they adopted new maps in 2013, but that the state legitimately wanted to end ongoing litigation about its district maps.

The high court on June 18 declined to issue a major ruling in two high-profile cases from Wisconsin and Maryland that could have curbed the ability of state lawmakers to draw electoral districts purely for partisan advantage. When they ruled in favor of the baker, Jack Phillips, they largely tailored their opinion to the specifics of his case. "In Masterpiece, the Supreme Court found that the state of Colorado's enforcement of its civil rights law was flawed due to perceived bias in the process, however, there is no indication that there were flaws in the application of civil rights law in Arlene's Flowers".

The 73-year-old florist, Barronelle Stutzman, appealed after Washington's Supreme Court ruled unanimously last year that she broke the state's anti-discrimination law by refusing on religious grounds to provide flowers for the wedding of a customer at her Richland shop, Arlene's Flowers, in 2013.

It's unclear if the Wisconsin ruling will force the North Carolina court to reach a different decision. The two sued Stutzman after she declined, because of her faith, to design custom floral arrangements celebrating the same-sex wedding of a customer she had served for almost 10 years. The State of Washington followed with its own lawsuit against the business charging it with violating the Washington Consumer Protection Act.

The 5-4 decision comes nine months after Democrats had celebrated lower court rulings that invalidated parts of Texas's electoral maps and a revised voter ID law. Disability Rights Washington, El Centro de la Raza, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, PFLAG Seattle, Pride Foundation, QLaw Association of Washington, South Asian Bar Association of Washington and Washington Women Lawyers joined the brief.

In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the Court's majority "guaranteed [Texas'] continued use of much of its discriminatory maps".