Brush & Nib v. City of Phoenix
Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Arizona Court of Appeals supporting the City of Phoenix in its defense against a challenge to its nondiscrimination ordinance. At issue is a suit by Brush & Nib, a business that offers printing and design services for special events, seeking to block the city law because they might be asked to provide their services to same-sex couple and they object on religious and free speech grounds to treating same-sex couples like other customers.
The Maricopa County Superior Court rejected the business owners’ request for a preliminary order blocking the Phoenix law, saying they had not established a likelihood of success on either their religion or free speech claim. The business then filed an immediate appeal to the Arizona Court of Appeals.
Lambda Legal’s brief urges the Court of Appeals to affirm the Superior Court’s order. It discusses past precedents in which courts rejected similar demands for religious exemptions from laws barring discrimination based on race, sex or marital status. The brief also surveyed the history and continuing problem of antigay discrimination in Arizona. It emphasized that the business owners’ desire to tell same-sex couples essentially that “we don’t serve your kind here” is discrimination of a harmful, all-too-familiar kind. It violates the Phoenix city ordinance regardless of the business owners’ religious or other personal motivations.
After all briefing concerning the preliminary injunction order was submitted to the Court of Appeals, the Superior Court completed its consideration of the case and entered a final order again rejecting the religion- and speech-related excuses for discrimination.
- April 23, 2018: Oral arguments are held at Arizona Court of Appeals.
- June 7, 2018: Arizona Court of Appeals affirms trial court’s decision that the City of Phoenix's sexual orientation nondiscrimination law can be enforced against Brush & Nib, rejecting the business’s religion and free speech arguments and denying its request for an order allowing it to refuse service to same-sex couples.
- September 16, 2019: In a narrow 5-4 ruling, Arizona Supreme court grants Brush & Nib a limited religious license to discriminate.