Supreme Court postpones ruling on cake and party lines

The Supreme Court decided Monday to postpone the decision of whether a Christian shop owner can refuse service to a same-sex wedding or whether some states have gone too far in gerrymandering their election maps for partisan advantage.

The justices said they would not hear two similar cases in the fall, instead sending them back to lower courts to be reconsidered under the hazy standards recently issued by the high court. The brief orders, issued without registered dissents, suggest the justices are essentially deadlocked on both issues for now.

The court sent back a pending appeal from a florist in Richland, Wash., who was convicted of violating the state’s civil rights law for refusing to provide a floral arrangement for a wedding of two men. The court’s one-line order on Monday said Washington state judges should reconsider the case “in light of Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado.” A judge there ruled the florist had violated the state law and fined her $1,000.

In her appeal, she urged the Supreme Court to rule that she had a free speech right to refuse to provide “artistic expression” to celebrate a same-sex wedding. She also said that requiring her to provide flowers violated her right to the “free exercise of religion.”

Both claims were before the justices in the case of the Colorado baker.

The justices had held the appeal in Arlene’s Flowers vs. Washington while they decided the Colorado case.

Meanwhile, North Carolina Republicans had appealed a federal ruling that struck down the state’s redrawn congressional districts. The map gave the GOP a lopsided 10-3 margin in its delegation to the House of Representatives.

The justices said the lower court should reconsider the case of Rucho vs. Common Cause “in light of Gill vs. Whitford,” the Wisconsin case. Last week, the justices said only that the plaintiffs in Wisconsin did not have standing to seek a statewide order because they lived in just a few districts.

In both cases — from Washington and North Carolina — the judges are likely to reissue their rulings, thereby sending the appeal back to the Supreme Court later this year.