Monday, October 5, 2015

ADF must think that Barronelle Stutzman needs some attention


Monday, the Heritage Foundation's Daily Signal blog has a piece titled “21 Questions With Washington Florist Who Refused to Serve Gay Wedding.” She also refused to settle the matter for $2,000 after she lost in court (the Washington AG was extremely magnanimous).

I'll get to some of the 21 questions but first, let us be clear as to what is going on here. According to the superior court ruling, citing a religious objection Ms. Stutzman refused to make floral arrangements if they were to be used at a same-sex wedding. She also refused to let anyone in her employ make those floral arrangements claiming that doing so would demonstrate her personal approval of same-sex marriage. This is a clear violation of the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) which then constitutes a violation of Washington's Consumer Protection Act.

If this all has a familiar ring to it that is because lawyers handling these cases, most notably ADF and Liberty Counsel, don't change their arguments. Clients change. The bullshit remains as is. ADF was probably trolling wedding vendors as soon as Washington became an equality state. I suspect that Stutzman had some contact with them prior to this incident.

We all know, and ADF surely knows, where this is going. Stutzman lost in Washington Superior Court and Ms. Stutzman will lose in Washington's supreme court which has not determined if it will hear the case. Alliance Defending Freedom is probably not going to stop there. This case is likely to make its way through the federal courts where she will continue to lose. All of this activity is at taxpayer expense.

It is a futile enterprise. Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander Ekstrom noted that there is ample precedent citing Supreme Court cases United States v. Reynolds (1879) and Employment Division v. Smith (1990). My citations differ somewhat from those that the judge selected.

In Reynolds Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Waite wrote:
Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices. Suppose one believed that human sacrifices were a necessary part of religious worship, would it be seriously contended that the civil government under which he lived could not interfere to prevent a sacrifice?
In Smith Justice Scalia wrote:
We have never held that an individual's religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate. On the contrary, the record of more than a century of our free exercise jurisprudence contradicts that proposition.
Getting back to those 21 questions. Among them was “Did you break the law?” Stutzman's answer was a simple “no.” She did and a true conscientious objector admits to breaking the law. Isn't that the point? What part of WLAD does she think is ambiguous?

Asked what she has to lose, her answer is “everything.” Later on she claims that her home, retirement and savings are all at risk. They didn't ask about money coming in. Before they shut her down Stutzman raised $175,000 at GoFundMe. She's raised another $3,500 at ContinueToGive and there is probably more. She is no longer doing weddings which account for only 3% of the business and her attitude probably cost her some customers. However, her legal representation is free. So far, this has probably been profitable. Furthermore, she was initially fined $1,000. After she lost her appeal in superior court, the Washington AG offered to settle the matter for $2,000. She declined. If she were paying lawyers then this matter would probably be at an end.

One answer that I found interesting was in response to asking what her religion is. Her answer was “Faith in Jesus Christ.” According to testimony her religion is Southern Baptist. Is she embarrassed? Watch the video. Readers may spot other answers of interest or questions not asked.

In any event this is the usual Christian calculus. By pimping out the florist ADF receives (tax deducted) contributions that far exceed their costs. Stutzman likes all the attention she is getting and really has little to lose. I am guessing that they are turning up the volume on this matter as the Washington Supreme Court considers whether or not to hear the case. More to come.

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