Supreme Court

After Gay Wedding Cake Ruling, Supreme Court Punts Floral Arrangements Case

Washington State told to revisit ruling against Arlene's Flowers.


Wedding flowers
Iancucristi /

The Supreme Court today punted another case back down to the state level rather than further explore whether wedding service providers could legally be ordered to serve same-sex couples.

The Court ruled on June 4 that the state of Colorado erred when it punished a baker for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The decision was 7-2, but it was ruled on very narrow grounds that didn't really address some larger free speech questions raised by the case. Instead, the majority ruled that the state's Civil Rights Commission showed open hostility toward the issues of religious freedom presented in the case and did not behave as a neutral arbiter of antidiscrimination and public accommodation laws, which is its role. The court invalidated the commission's ruling but deliberately did not rule one way or the other as to whether the creation of a wedding cake was a form of speech or expression.

As a result, many people had their eyes on another, very similar case, Arlene's Flowers v. Washington, which had been petitioned to the Supreme Court for consideration (the Reason Foundation submitted an amicus brief supporting the florist and encouraging the Supreme Court to take the case up). The arguments in the case are similar to the arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, but the case revolved around floral arrangements, not cake. Washington state ruled that Arlene's Flowers could not decline to provide its arrangements for same-sex weddings under the state's public accommodation laws.

Today, the Supreme Court announced it would not take up the Arlene's Flowers case, instead sending it back to the state court to reconsider in the wake of their Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling.

What that means is, essentially, the Supreme Court is warning these state officials that they need to be neutrally applying their antidiscrimination laws, and when somebody presents religious objections to what they see as compelled speech, it can't be treated differently than other types of objections to compelled speech.

This is not a win or a loss for any side, but states should see it as a warning that they really do need to take seriously religious objections to these laws. Arlene's Flowers owner Baronnelle Stutzman believes that she was treated with the same sort of antireligious animosity the court found in the Colorado case. Washington officials are going to have to show otherwise. You can read the state Supreme Court ruling here at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) website (the ACLU is supporting the state, not the florist).

The Arlene's Flowers case may eventually work its way back up to the Supreme Court, where SCOTUS may choose to tackle the issue of whether the providing of wedding goods and services count as expressive speech that cannot be mandated without violating the First Amendment. But that particular dilemma has been kicked quite a ways down the road for now.

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  1. “You can read the state Supreme Court ruling here at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) website (the ACLU is supporting the state, not the florist).”

    It’s hilarious when people still pretend like the ACLU has absolutely anything to do with civil liberties anymore

    1. The ACLU now defines “civil liberties” as “whatever we feel like defending”, so it’s tautologically true that they defend civil liberties.

    2. I quit working at shoprite and now I make $30h ? $72h?how? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new? after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn’t be happier.Check it out here? >>

    3. Hey, wasn’t it posted on Reason that they really ARE totes supportive of free speech and all? Can’t figure out why some think otherwise.

      1. No. They just did an article last week discussing how they are explicitly wavering on free speech.

        1. Volokh here published:


          Where ACLU claims they are totes supportive.

          1. a) Volkh is editorially separate from reason, which is why their content never shows up in the H&R feed. So it’s not entirely accurate to say it was ‘posted on reason’.

            b) That post is literally a series of dueling opinions from people associated with the ACLU separated by Volkh saying “I really don’t know enough about this to have an opinion.”

          2. And a fair amount of the Volokh is dedicated to examining that claim and being suspicious of it.

        1. You need a link to explain to you that the ACLU doesn’t defend civil liberties? I think this article covers that. Do you want more?

          1. I need a link to support the specific factual claim that Reason published an article arguing that the ACLU is still a reliable ally of free speech.

            1. Oh, I got confused

    4. Why aren’t you whining about how Reason wants people to BAKE THE CAKE?

      1. Why are you whining about someone not whining?

      2. Sorry that you voted for a candidate that was no more ‘libertarian’ than Trump or Clinton. But, hey, you got to virtue signal about it, right?

        1. Is this argument meant to do anything more than make you feel better about who you did vote for? What exactly are you trying to accomplish?

          1. The same could be said for the initial commentator that seems to take offense at the notion that the ACLU has nothing to do with civil liberties.

            And, yes, I do feel good about voting for Jill Stein. That wacky communist was at least opposed to military adventurism.

            1. So is this like where you chase after Crusty calling him a cheerleader for calling others snowflakes?

              1. Or like when you chase around libertymike comments?

                I’m only responding to haikus

                1. Good enough, just checking.

                  1. PS – it’s much easier to leave a one word rating. It saves you time and lets everyone else know that it’s not really anything to be taken seriously.

                    1. Oh, Sparky. I don’t get you, man. I just…I need more haikus. That’s all I got

      3. The Reas N editorial staff should be made t bake me a check chocolate bundt cake. Not because I’m gay (I’m not), but because I think the gang at Reason should be baking me a cake, and chocolate bundt cake is delicious.

        ENB can serve it to me.

    5. This is about competing civil liberties and civil rights. Both the business owner and the customers have constitutional rights to religious liberties, the owner can have beliefs that say marriage is only between a man and a woman, the customers can have beliefs that allow same-s?x marriages.

      The crucial difference is – the business invited the public to come buy custom wedding floral arrangements, a group that includes people who’s beliefs include same s?x marriage.

      Obviously the business can’t invite everyone to come buy and then tell some of the responding, invited customers “Oh. We didn’t mean people with your beliefs.”

      Sorry, the customer’s 1st amendment civil liberties gives them the right to NOT share the owner’s beliefs, and their civil rights shield them from religious discrimination by the business.

      The ACLU is supporting the civil liberties and rights of the freely invited customer.

      Can’t sell something to people of any belief don’t invite a group comprised of all beliefs to come and buy it.

      1. Fortunately, the Supreme Court disagreed with you. Businesses have refused to make cakes with other messages the owners disagreed with or found repugnant and governments allowed those refusals to stand.

        The First Amendment trumps public accommodation laws.

    6. Like the vastly wealthy Southern Poverty Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union is a name that is Orwellian in that it suggests the exact opposite of what the ACLU actually does.

  2. when somebody presents religious objections to what they see as compelled speech, it can’t be treated differently than other types of objections to compelled speech.

    Sheesh, what good is religion, then?

    *** kicks pebble ***

  3. Step 1: Mandate segregation
    Step 2: Feel guilty, mandate integration
    Step 3: Realize too late you’ve ditched freedom of association, scramble for ways to save face.

    1. Step 4: Profit

      1. Step 4: Get votes

        1. Step 4: Sell newspapers/website clicks

  4. … (the Reason Foundation submitted an amicus brief supporting the florist and encouraging the Supreme Court to take the case up).


  5. What that means is, essentially, the Supreme Court is warning these state officials that they need to be neutrally applying their antidiscrimination laws…

    Not possible. By the vary nature of the laws, the state is essentially telling the public that there is an objective right and objective wrong in thinking.

  6. Supremes say no need to bake,
    Be it cod, chicken or cake,
    Some now say they are awake,
    Others know not a fair shake,
    While they frolic at the lake,
    Floral arrangements for Flake?

    1. Stupid

      1. ^ I called it

        1. You called something alright.

  7. Those flowers are very gay looking.

  8. I’m hoping SCOTUS calls everybody involved up front, picks up their gavels and orders everybody to lay their dick on the bench. Whatever happened to the idea of de minimus? You’re making a federal case out of flowers and cakes? Get the fuck out of my courtroom with that shit, stop pestering people to do shit they don’t want to do.

  9. It is the nature of religion to be taken seriously in an inverse proportion to the seriousness of its claims.

    Trees might be cool? Fucking hippies.

    The omnipotent creator of the cosmos thinks gays shouldn’t get marriage benefits? Praise seriousness!

    1. The omnipotent creator of the cosmos thinks gays shouldn’t get marriage benefits?

      Nah.. its just that the God who made humans knows how they are supposed to work, and thus HE, who designed and produced humans, knows what is best for us.

      THAT”S why HE declares that for a man to lie with another man as with a woman is an abomination, just as for a woman to lie with another woman as with a man also is. HE knows “it just don’t work”. For the same reason He has also declared that for a man to couple with any beast is just as wrong, and for the same reason.

      Would the folks that designed and produced your Samsung phone be thought to speak out of turn if they declared that your use of that phone for a car jack to change a punctured tyre would not be an appropriate use for that device?

      How are these two examples different?

      1. Eww get it off me.

        Men don’t lie with men as with women. Men don’t have vaginas. It’s fine.

        And I suppose HE is just fine with you fucking your cousin. How convenient.

        1. You are utter useless trash to the core of your pointless existence.

    2. You are an absolute grade-A retard.

  10. What happens if you bake a crappy cake or make a lousy flower arrangement? Is that against the law?

    “Sorry, when I’m engaged in involuntary servitude I tend to screw up.”

    1. If crappy service is motivated by not wanting to serve blacks, methodists or (in some jurisdictions) gays, then yes it’s illegal.

      1. Cite.

  11. Bigots have rights, too.

    1. You don’t say!

      What rights do they have?

      1. The same rights as decent people.

        1. Are you saying that reassure yourself that bigots like you have rights? Or to rub it in to the commentariat here, almost all of us being non bigots?

  12. Tjese two cases are markedly different in this one way, which is key:

    In Masterpiece, the two “offended” parties filed a grievance or complaint, and the state’s biased Commission went into it with predetermined outcome.

    1. In Arlene’s, (which SHOULD rightly be titled State of Washington vs, Arlene’s Flowers) there had been a longstanding and mutually agreeable relationship between the shop’s owner and the two parties. When they ASKED her about flowers for their “ceremony”, they already knew well her position on sodomite activity and recognitioin. She exlained that she could not, they accepted it with grace, their relationship continued as before. She offered, then followed through to help them find someone else to take care of THIS need. They continued as patrons… UNTIL Washington’s newly crowned Attornty General, Bob Ferguson, AFTER he was elected, decided on his own initiative to file suit. He futerht took the very aggressive, and unusual, step of suing against her business, a solely-owned private for profit corporation in Washington State, AND suing her in her individual capacity as a resident of Washington. This “justified” his seizing ALL her assets, business and personal, which he has had tied up since his filing. He is using Washington’s all but unlimited resources to attack and destroy one single individual who never had any form of complaint filed against her. This is all Bobby’s personal vendetta.

      THAT is likely why SCOTUS threw it back, telling HIM to reconsider. I think he’d be wise to do so. AND stop wating Washington’s resources. They are not his private legal slush fund to accomplish his own social engineering goals.

      1. I need you to repeat after me:

        “I am a false prophet and God is a superstition.”

        1. I need you to repeat after me, “I am Tony, a lowbrow moron, convinced that he possesses an intellect. I am Tony, a complete blithering idiot with the intellectual maturity and substance of a middle school child. I am Tony, the object of derision, scorn, and mockery every time I type something and reveal what a completely inane retard I am. I am Tony. Maybe someday I might touch a woman intimately. But unlikely.”

      2. Yes. There’s your proof of animus right there, and animus is also reflected in the insane $135,000 judgement against an Oregon couple for not wanting to validate a couple of lesbians with a custom wedding cake, not to mention the irregularities in the way their case was handled by the administrative judge who ruled against them.

        SCOTUS is putting various kangaroo courts on notice that they are going to have to clean up their acts.

      3. The owner sold them any regular product of their shelf. The only time she refused was when the couple made a request for custom work (the wedding) that the owner declined a she was not comfortable with the request.

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