Supreme Court accepts Texas voting maps in blow to Democrats

Brendan Dassey is escorted out of a Manitowoc County Circuit courtroom in Manitowoc Wis

The justices ruled 5-4 Monday in an unusual case involving congressional and state legislative districts that had first been adopted by the lower court on an interim basis, then approved by the Texas Legislature. The two sued Stutzman after she declined, because of her faith, to design custom floral arrangements celebrating the same-sex wedding of a customer she had served for almost 10 years.

The court said in the Colorado case that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission expressed anti-religious bias in violation of the baker's constitutional rights.

"The Washington attorney general's efforts to punish her because he dislikes her beliefs about marriage are as impermissible as Colorado's attempt to punish Jack", said Waggoner, who argued on Stutzman's behalf before the Washington Supreme Court in 2016.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the couple seeking the floral arrangements, said by not taking the case, the high court paved the way for the state court to again rule in the couple's favor. "This case is no more about access to flowers than civil rights cases in the 1960s were about access to sandwiches", the court said, quoting from the plaintiffs' brief.

The state and the couple sued Stutzman in 2013, accusing her of violating the state anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws. In delivering the court's opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy said states are well within their power to enact anti-discrimination measures in public accommodations laws, but laws must be fairly enforced. However, Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene's Flowers is still facing the same limitations on her freedom in Washington state.

The Supreme Court passed up new opportunities Monday to take on two hot topics - partisan gerrymandering and balancing LGBT and religious rights - and also left rulings about the Trump travel ban and other big cases for coming days as it began the final week of its term.

But on Monday, the Supreme Court ordered those judges to revisit the case in light of its ruling last week on a similar situation in Wisconsin.

Texas Republicans praised and Democrats rejected the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling that the Texas Legislature did not purposely discriminate against minority voters when developing political boundaries.

It's unclear if the Wisconsin ruling will force the North Carolina court to reach a different decision.

The U.S. Supreme Court is refusing to hear the case of Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene's Flowers, who refused to sell flowers to a same-sex couple for their wedding - for now.

North Carolina has been described as one of the most gerrymandered states, and over the past seven years voters have chosen elected officials for the General Assembly and U.S. Congress from election districts that were later struck down by the courts as either racial or partisan gerrymanders.

Associated Press writer Mark Sherman contributed from Washington. Alito said the lower court used the wrong standard in evaluating the districts - that it should have presumed the state acted in good faith, rather than assuming that the new district lines were an extension of previous racial gerrymandering.

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