It’s good to know that (some of) our government officials are looking out for our constitutional freedoms.
In this case, 29 members of Congress and 14 states asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case of Washington floral artist Barronelle Stutzman in amicus briefs filed with the Court yesterday. But, really, every government official should have signed on to these briefs. Because when we protect the constitutional principles of religious expression and free speech, everyone wins.
Barronelle is simply asking that the Supreme Court recognize that she have the freedom to peacefully live and work according to her convictions.
That’s all she was doing when longtime customer Rob Ingersoll walked into her shop to request a creative, custom floral design. While Barronelle had happily provided unique arrangements for birthdays and anniversaries and other special occasions in Rob’s life for nearly 10 years, this particular request was different. Rob told Barronelle that he would be getting married to his partner, and he asked if Barronelle would create custom floral designs for their same-sex wedding.
Normally, Barronelle would jump at the opportunity to create something unique for Rob, but a wedding holds spiritual significance. Barronelle is a Christian, and she believes what the Bible says about marriage – that it is a sacred union between one man and one woman. Because of this, Barronelle referred Rob to three other floral artists that she knew would do a good job for him. They hugged, and Rob left.
What happened next was completely unexpected.
Barronelle was sued by the state and by the couple and stands to lose everything she owns. After several years of litigation, Alliance Defending Freedom is asking the Supreme Court to hear Barronelle’s case and to uphold her constitutional rights.
And the amicus brief of these 29 members of Congress shows that they are upholding their oath to defend the Constitution by encouraging the Court to do just that:
Government coercion of speech or conduct that violates the religious conscience of the speaker or actor is not only a violation of the First Amendment and the traditions surrounding that Amendment, it is also a gross violation of personal liberty. Any such government action must be subject to strict scrutiny. The Court should grant review to reestablish that fundamental principle.
If the government can force a 72-year-old grandmother to violate her beliefs by using her artistic talents to celebrate an objectionable event, who’s to say the government can’t force us all to do the same? When the government can tell us what to think, what to do, and what to say, that should concern us all.
We are thankful to the 29 members of Congress, the 14 states, and the many other individuals and organizations who are standing up for Barronelle and for our constitutional rights.
We join them in asking that the Supreme Court do the same.
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