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Case

Arlene’s Flowers v. State of Washington | Arlene’s Flowers v. Ingersoll

Court: U.S. Supreme Court

Status: Active

Last Updated: 5/27/2020

Overview

What's at stake

The freedom to operate a business according to your religious beliefs

The right of artistic professionals to express themselves without government coercion to express views with which they disagree

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Summary

A longtime customer of floral artist Barronelle Stutzman asked her to design and create the flowers for his same-sex ceremony. She politely told him that she couldn’t participate in the ceremony because of her religious beliefs, but she referred him to three other florists who did not have the same conviction. After the customer’s partner described the situation on his Facebook page, Barronelle was faced with a barrage of media inquiries, hate mail and phone calls, and even death threats.

After learning about the situation in the media, the Washington state attorney general filed a lawsuit against Barronelle, claiming that she was required to participate in same-sex ceremonies by Washington law. Shortly after that, the ACLU also sued Barronelle on behalf of the same-sex couple.

The court ruled against Barronelle and ordered her to pay penalties and attorneys’ fees.

ADF petitioned the Washington Supreme Court to take up Barronelle’s case, and, in March 2016, the court agreed. Oral arguments were heard on November 15, 2016 at Bellevue College. 

In February 2017, the Washington Supreme Court concluded that the government can force her—and, by extension, other creative professionals—to create artistic expression and participate in events with which they disagree.

In July 2017, ADF petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take up Barronelle's case. In June 2018, the Court sent the case back to the Washington Supreme Court, after vacating that court’s decision and instructing it to reconsider her lawsuit in light of the decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

In June 2019, the Washington Supreme Court ruled against Barronelle a second time. ADF attorneys have once again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take her case.

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom represents Barronelle in both cases, defending her from the state and the ACLU.

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Resources

Legal Documents

Court
Title
Date
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Arlene's Flowers", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/arlene's-flowers-v.-state-of-washington-arlene's-flowers-v.-ingersoll/state-of-washington-v-arlene's-flowers---complaint---arlene's-flowers.pdf", "Date": "8/1/2013 9:44:06 PM"}, {"Court": "Trial Court", "Title": "Answer to ACLU complaint", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/arlene's-flowers-v.-state-of-washington-arlene's-flowers-v.-ingersoll/state-of-washington-v-arlene's-flowers---answer-to-aclu-complaint.pdf", "Date": "5/17/2013 9:44:05 PM"}, {"Court": "Trial Court", "Title": "Answer to Wash. AG and countersuit against AG", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/arlene's-flowers-v.-state-of-washington-arlene's-flowers-v.-ingersoll/state-of-washington-v-arlene's-flowers---answer-to-wash-ag-and-countersuit-against-ag.pdf", "Date": "5/14/2013 9:44:05 PM"}, {"Court": "Trial Court", "Title": "ACLU complaint", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/arlene's-flowers-v.-state-of-washington-arlene's-flowers-v.-ingersoll/state-of-washington-v-arlene's-flowers---aclu-complaint.pdf", "Date": "4/18/2013 9:44:05 PM"}, {"Court": "Trial Court", "Title": "AG complaint", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/arlene's-flowers-v.-state-of-washington-arlene's-flowers-v.-ingersoll/state-of-washington-v-arlene's-flowers---ag-complaint.pdf", "Date": "4/9/2013 9:44:05 PM"}]}

Biographies

John Bursch

Vice President of Appellate Advocacy, Senior Counsel

John Bursch is vice president of appellate advocacy and senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom.

Kristen K. Waggoner

General Counsel

Kristen K. Waggoner serves as General Counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom. Her role includes oversight of the U.S. legal division, a team of 100 attorneys and staff who engage in litigation, public advocacy, and legislative support.


Additional Resources

 

Video: Watch WA Attorney General concede that Barronelle’s floral designs are a form of speech

Video: Barronelle Stutzman Oral Arguments Washington State Supreme Court 11-15-16

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