Yesterday a group of members of Congress, represented by Schaerr | Duncan, filed a brief in support of certiorari in the case of Arlene's Flowers v. Washington. The petitioner, Barronelle Stutzman, was coerced by both a Washington nondiscrimination law and lower courts into servicing and attending same-sex weddings-- a violation of her religious conscience-- merely because she did the same for opposite-sex weddings. But, as the brief explained, such coercion violates both national tradition dating to the founding and case law under the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses absent a compelling governmental interest. The Supreme Court will consider these concerns about coercion as it considers whether to hear this case alongside a similar case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, this coming Term.
About the Author
Gene Schaerr specializes in handling—and usually winning—civil appeals, writ proceedings and similar matters, both in appellate courts and in the law-focused proceedings at the trial-court or agency level that often determine success or failure on appeal. He has argued and won dozens of cases in a variety of forums—including the U.S. Supreme Court (where he has argued six cases), every federal circuit, and numerous federal district courts and state appellate courts. His win rate in the dozens of federal appeals he has argued in the past six years is over 75 percent. He was a coordinator of Sidley Austin's appellate practice from 1993 until 2005, and from 2005 until 2014 was the chair of the nationwide appellate practice at Winston & Strawn—a practice he led to numerous recognitions in such publications as the Appellate Hot List. His personal practice successes have won him repeated recognition in such publications as Best Lawyers in Washington, D.C., Legal 500, D.C. Superlawyers, and Best Lawyers in America. In January 2014, Mr. Schaerr formed his own boutique litigation firm so that he could serve his clients without the conflicts and inefficiencies inherent in big-firm law practice. Substantively, Mr. Schaerr's experience includes not only virtually every area of federal law, defamation, higher education law, immigration, insurance coverage, labor and employment, patent and trademark, privacy, product liability and warranty, statutory interpretation and tax.He has represented clients in virtually every sector, including automotive, communications, energy, financial services, health care, higher education, insurance, maritime, pharmaceuticals, technology and state and local government. He also teaches courses in Supreme Court litigation, religious freedom litigation and advanced litigation skills as an adjunct professor of law at the Brigham Young University law school. Mr. Schaerr began law practice in 1987 following clerkships on the U.S. Supreme Court (for Chief Justice Warren Burger and Justice Antonin Scalia) and on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (for then- Judge Kenneth Starr). He graduated in 1985 from the Yale Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Journal on Regulation and Senior Editor of the Yale Law Journal. From 1991 to 1993, he served in the White House as Associate Counsel to the President, where he had responsibility for a wide range of constitutional and administrative-law issues, including those involving economic regulation, higher education, separation of powers, federalism and religious freedom. He serves as Chairman of the Constitutional Sources Project, a digital resource providing free public access to historical materials relevant to the U.S. Constitution.