US Supreme Court favours Republicans in gerrymandering cases

28 June 2018, 12:51 | Santos Harmon

‘Making A Murderer’ Subject Denied U.S. Supreme Court Appeal

Barronelle Stutzman center a Richland Wash. florist who was fined for denying service to a gay couple in 2013 smiles as she is surrounded by supporters Nov. 15 2016 in Bellevue Wash

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) believes that in sending the florist case back to the lower courts, the Supreme Court might be "setting up" Washington state's Supreme Court to "rule in favor of the couple", according to The Hill. "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 ten years".

The Texas case involved more traditional challenges to the use of race in drawing district lines, something the high court deals with perennially from states with a history of violating the 1968 Voting Rights Act. There's apparently no evidence of that in this case, although the group representing the florist filed a supplemental brief alleging some evidence exists.

"The Washington State Supreme Court now has the job of determining whether the U.S. Supreme Court ruling affects this case", Ferguson said in a written statement.

The court's 7-2 ruling this month in the case of Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, did not resolve whether an array of same-sex marriage opponents can refuse commercial services available to opposite-sex couples.

Washington has a law forbidding businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, so the state and the couple each sued Arlene's Flowers and Gifts as violating the law.

A case pitting anti-discrimination laws against claims of conscience in the context of same-sex marriage may yet reach the Supreme Court.

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In February, 2017, Washington's highest court unanimously ruled that Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene's Flowers & Gifts in Richland, had discriminated against a gay couple when she refused to provide flowers for their wedding.

"We view this decision as encouraging news that justice will prevail and the Washington State Supreme Court will again uphold the state's non-discrimination laws ensuring LGBTQ people can not be turned away from a business open to the public".

The reconsideration of the Arlene's Flowers case by the state supreme court is likely to revolve around the issue of whether Washington's government showed bias against religious beliefs as it enforced its anti-discrimination law that protects LGBT people. It's not clear that either case will turn out differently and both could return to the Supreme Court quickly, perhaps in time for the term that begins in October.

The Supreme Court recently considered the question of partisan gerrymandering in cases from Wisconsin and Maryland.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that retailers can not steer customers away from using American Express credit cards to avoid higher merchant fees. 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 the process, it's quite possible that this one-sentence order will open the door to serious disagreements among the lower courts over when and under what circumstances business owners can refuse to serve same-sex couples", Vladeck said on Monday's move in the florist case. In exchange, he demanded that Stutzman give up her religious and artistic freedom.



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