A Statement from Center for Arizona Policy President Cathi Herrod
“Christian artists Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski of Brush & Nib Studio rightly serve all people; however, they should not be compelled by the City of Phoenix to communicate messages that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs,” stated VP of Policy & General Counsel W. Michael Clark, in announcing Center for Arizona Policy’s (“CAP”) filing of a brief with the Arizona Court of Appeals today.
CAP filed its friends-of-the-court brief in Brush & Nib Studio v. City of Phoenix in conjunction with Center for Religious Expression in support of Joanna and Breanna. The brief was filed with an additional motion requesting the Court’s permission to file the brief, after the City of Phoenix refused consent. Oral argument before the Court is scheduled on Tuesday, April 10.
Clark further stated that “artists, like Joanna and Breanna, should be free to live according to their sincerely held religious beliefs, and not be compelled by the City to create art that violates their conscience.”
The brief argues that Phoenix’s nondiscrimination ordinance violates Joanna’s and Breanna’s First Amendment rights by compelling them to create hand-drawn invitations and paintings for weddings that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage. Joanna and Breanna’s collaborative process with customers to create custom artwork containing and expressing words constitute pure speech protected by the First Amendment. Moreover, there is wide consensus recognizing that the government should not wield antidiscrimination laws to compel words from its citizens.
For these reasons, among others included in the brief, we asked the Arizona Court of Appeals to reverse the Maricopa County Superior Court ruling against Joanna and Breanna. To read the brief, click here.
In 2016, Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of Brush & Nib challenging a City of Phoenix ordinance that prevents Joanna and Breanna from running their business in accordance with their faith. Under the ordinance, if they create hand-painted custom wedding invitations or artwork for weddings, they will be compelled to create the same for same-sex weddings. The ordinance also prevents them from explaining to customers why, according to their faith, they can only create artwork for marriages between one man and one woman. If Joanna and Breanna violate the law they would be criminally liable, and could be penalized up to $2,500 and six months in jail for each day they are in violation. For more details on the case, see Alliance Defending Freedom’s overview.
Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) is a nonprofit advocacy group whose mission is to promote and defend the foundational values of life, marriage and family, and religious freedom. For more information, visit azpolicy.org.