NEWS RELEASE: Arizona High Court: Phoenix Law Violates Free Speech, Religious Freedom

For Immediate Release
Monday, September 16, 2019
Contact: Cindy Dahlgren

A Statement from Center for Arizona Policy President Cathi Herrod, Esq.

The Arizona Supreme Court today handed down a major victory for free speech and religious freedom in Brush & Nib v City of Phoenix. It ruled a Phoenix ordinance forcing artists to create custom wedding invitations for same-sex weddings under threat of punishment violates Arizona’s Constitution and Free Exercise of Religion Act (FERA).

This ruling rights a serious wrong inflicted on the people of this state by a number of Arizona city councils. Phoenix was not alone in passing an extreme measure denying Arizonans their First Amendment rights. But, the state high court today confirmed artists do not give up their free speech and religious freedom rights when they enter the marketplace. Artistic freedom cannot be restricted just to those who hold the government’s favored viewpoints. The court made clear that the government “must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions.”  It adds, “public accommodations are not immune to the First Amendment.”

It was the hard work of Alliance Defending Freedom that exposed the coercive Phoenix ordinance that mandated artists violate their conscience or face fines and jail time.

Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski use their artistic talents to create custom hand-drawn invitations for weddings out of their Phoenix business, Brush & Nib Studio. They happily serve all customers, but, as Christians with biblical views of marriage, they cannot violate their conscience by creating custom art that celebrates same-sex weddings. The state high court effectively agreed that disagreement is not discrimination stating, “The fact that Plaintiffs’ message based refusal primarily impacts customers with certain sexual orientations does not deprive Plaintiffs of First Amendment protection.”

Let’s be clear, Duka and Koski serve everyone, but the government should never coerce Arizonans into using their artistic talents to celebrate a message that violates their deeply held beliefs.

Center for Arizona Policy promotes and defends the foundational values of life, marriage and family, and religious freedom. For more information, visit

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