The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
When you read a Supreme Court decision, it is often easy to forget that real-life people are involved. And often, litigants have to wait years to reach a final judgment. Some have to wait longer than others. A prime example is Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene's Flowers in Washington. Her case has been pending in the courts for nearly a decade. It was GVR'd following Masterpiece Cakeshop. And, after the last term finished, the Court denied cert over three dissents. But the case was still not over. ADF, Stutzman's counsel, filed a petition for rehearing. These motions are usually denied pro forma. But Stutzman's case was not yet over. It was relisted several times. I speculated that the Court might hold Arlene's Flowers pending 303 Creative.
Alas, the case has now come to a close. Stutzman, who is 77-years-old, has decided to retire. And she reached a settlement with Robert Ingersroll and Curt Freed, the couple that had long-ago requested flowers. Stutzman will pay the couple $5,000, and dismiss her pending motion for reconsideration.
Stutzman issued a statement:
But, as most of you know, that was not the end of it. What followed were lawsuits filed against me and a concerted effort to either force me to change my religious beliefs or pay a devastating price for believing them including being threatened with the loss of my home, my business, and my life savings. The confrontations have led me on a long and winding nine-year journey through the legal system, though it was a journey where Jesus Christ walked with me every step of the way.
Today, that journey ends, and I am at peace. I wish the culmination of all that I've been through could result in a new respect, culturally and legally, for freedom of conscience in our country. From the beginning, I have asked no more than the freedom to act in accordance with my religious beliefs and personal convictions. I have treated those who persecuted me with respect, and with the assurance that I want for them the same freedom that I ask for myself.
So, I've paid $5,000 to Rob and am passing my legal torch on to other artists—like Lorie Smith of 303 Creative in Colorado, whose case may well be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this term—and thanking God for the victories He's so graciously given me.
I've never had to compromise my conscience, or go against my faith.
The response in 303 Creative is due on December 8.