Justices won't hear case of anti-gay marriage florist

Brendan Dassey is escorted out of a Manitowoc County Circuit courtroom

The state attorney general sought to severely punish her with crippling fines to drive her out of business and even sued her personally, which could result in her home being taken away.

The maps, adopted in 2013 and challenged by individual voters and civil rights groups representing blacks and Hispanics, were based on court-drawn districts imposed for the 2012 election after prior Republican-draw maps drawn the previous year also were tossed as racially discriminatory.

Given the ambiguity and narrowness of Masterpiece the Supreme Court of Washington is seemingly compelled to determine whether or not Washington is hostile to religion.

The ACLU, which is involved in the case, offered a similar reaction.

Though the "grant, vacate, remand" order is a common step when the Court rules on a similar case as one pending, it adds additional delay to a final determination of the issue of whether same-sex couples can legally be refused services.

And according to Kristen Waggoner with the Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization that is working pro bono for the florist, Arlene's Flowers owner Barronelle Stutzman of Richland is feeling "hopeful" about getting a second chance at the Washington State Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court's 7-2 ruling in favor of Denver-area baker Jack Phillips left significant legal issues unresolved that the justices potentially could have addressed had they taken up the florist case.

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Because the decision reverses a lower court ruling that said lawmakers intentionally discriminated against minorities, voting rights experts say this case can not lead to the state being "bailed-in" under the Voting Rights Act.

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

In this session of the Supreme Court, now drawing to a close, the justices have chose to avoid a major decision on voting rights rather than send a clear message going into the 2018 midterm elections.

Making the same argument that they did in the baker case, Stutzman's lawyers said creating flower arrangements is a form of creative expression protected by the First Amendment and that she should not be forced to deliver a message through her work that she disagrees with.

"There is simply no record of anti-religious sentiment from the Washington State courts, and we have every reason to believe the Washington State Supreme Court will reaffirm Curt and Robert's right to be full and equal members of our society", Emily Chiang said, the chapter's legal director.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that retailers can not steer customers away from using American Express credit cards to avoid higher merchant fees. And he says the language of the decision would seem to make it far more hard to punish a recalcitrant state by putting it back under federal supervision for the next decade, a provision left intact by the Supreme Court five years ago.

Associated Press writer Mark Sherman contributed from Washington. The governments, and the court's liberals, said American Express was restricting competition in violation of federal antitrust law.

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