Arizona Supreme Court To Hear Religious, Artistic Freedom Case

On Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court agreed to consider Brush & Nib Studio v. City of Phoenix, an artistic and religious freedom case. The case involves two artists who risk jail time and fines if they violate a sweeping Phoenix criminal law that forces them to design and create custom artwork expressing messages that violate their core beliefs.

The Arizona Court of Appeals decided to allow the city to override Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski’s artistic and religious decisions about what messages to convey through their hand-painted and hand-lettered artwork in June.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Duka and Koski, owners of Brush & Nib Studio, then asked the high court to take the case because Phoenix’s position and the lower court’s decision violate fundamental principles of freedom of speech and religion. State legislators and other third parties also filed their own briefs with the court to encourage it to take the case.

“No one should be forced to create artwork contrary to their core convictions, and certainly not under threat of criminal fines and jail time. That is what’s at stake in this case, and we hope that the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision will protect artistic and religious freedom for everyone,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs, who argued the case before the Arizona Court of Appeals. “The government must allow artists to make their own decisions about which messages they will promote. Joanna and Breanna are happy to design custom art for anyone; they simply object to being forced to pour their heart, soul, imagination, and talent into creating messages that violate their conscience.”

Duka and Koski specialize in creating custom artwork using hand painting, hand lettering, and calligraphy to celebrate weddings and other events. The women’s religious convictions guide them in determining which messages they can and cannot promote through their custom artwork.

Phoenix interprets its ordinance in a way that forces the two artists to use their artistic talents to celebrate and promote same-sex marriage in violation of their beliefs. It also bans them from publicly communicating what custom artwork they can and cannot create consistent with their faith. The law threatens up to six months in jail, $2,500 in fines, and three years of probation for each day that there is a violation.

In the case, a pre-enforcement challenge to Phoenix City Code Section 18-4(B), ADF attorneys argue that the ordinance violates the Arizona Constitution and Arizona’s Free Exercise of Religion Act. Phoenix officials have interpreted the ordinance to force artists, like Duka and Koski, to create objectionable art, even when they decide what art they can create based on the art’s message, not the requester’s personal characteristics.


  1. I wonder- Do ya reckon the gays and lesbo’s shop around looking for places like this that refuse to cater to them just so they can then file a lawsuit against the poor owners?

    • Well I mean, if they get money out of it, why shouldn’t they? But really, this is truly ridiculous. Another example of intolerance from the tolerant left.

      • It is not money they are after. It is to force their beliefs and way of life on the entire society. They already have a lot of money backing them to do this. They won’t stop until all of “free” society agrees with them – the rest of us will be locked up somewhere only to be let out when if we drink the Koolaid and renounce God.

    • Why, yes. Yes, they do. They don’t realize yet that they are trying to force their “religion” on those who also have the right to reject it.

  2. Liberal fascism on display. It’s their way or off to court/jail/prison for you! Do not even dare to disagree!

  3. I truly hope the city gets severly slapped around and put squarely in its place on this issue by the high court. I also hope that the business owners file a substantial monetary claim against the city for its clear abuse of power by taking sides in what should be a non city issue. Perhaps the city should resign from promoting political correctness and focus on public safety and infrastructure instead.
    Let there be no mistake, this action really has little to do with gay rights or gay marriage, it’s just the vehicle to propel the progressive PC agenda via the abuse of power.
    So while the business owners simply declined to preform work from the wedding party without further comment or condemnation, the city of Phoenix and the wedding party felt obligated to attack the business owners for not embracing something that they found objectionable.
    It’s simply beyond laughable that two lesbians demand protected social respect and recognition under the law while having little to no concern over the recognized religious protections of the printers. And it’s simply beyond stupid for the city of Phoenix to enact ordinances that promote one idea at the expense of suppressing another.
    While the city of Phoenix and ladies have with total disregard failed to embrace Christian values, they expect the printers to abandon thier religious beliefs and values and forcefully embrace the opposing values of others?
    Hardly a shinning example of democracy hard at work. You don’t have to condone what others do, and you don’t have to condemn them either. It’s rather clear on the abuse of power who’s who.
    Don’t religious asylum seekers come to America to escape simular oppression in their homelands?

    The Oracle

    • Well said. Covers it all. Kudos. I should also add that athiesm is considered by the USCOTUS to be a religion as well as witchcraft and a number of others “belief systems.”

    • Well said. Kudos. I might also mention that SCOTUS recognizes Athieism and even Witchcraft as religions. Ergo, seems as if the LGBLTwhathaveyou community is attempting to force their ‘religion’ on non-believers as a whole. Isn’t that a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause? Congress shall make no laws regarding the establishment of a religion….
      I think these radical psychotic types target religious people to try to coerce them to go against their beliefs. How about if we target them to force them to recognize Christian values? Tit for tat and all that.

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