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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Case Against Party Planner Refusing To Serve Gun Club Heads To The Supreme Court

(Roiters) Baltimore Gun Club v. Stroud has landed on this year's United States Supreme Court docket.

In June last year, members of the Baltimore Gun Club approached freelance party planner Celine Stroud to organize a party planned in honor of the upcoming fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, the landmark case that struck down several Federal firearms laws and held that the Second Amendment protects the individual's right to possess a firearm. Stroud refused, stating that she could not in good conscience participate in a festivity celebrating an event she rigorously opposed.

The club hired a different party planner, and days after the event filed a discrimination suit against Stroud. The Maryland Commission on Civil Rights ruled that Stroud had violated state anti-discrimination law and ordered Stroud to pay several thousand in attorneys’ fees to the plaintiffs. The Maryland Supreme Court upheld the decision, and Stroud successfully appealed the U. S. Supreme Court, which will hear the case in early May.

Stroud claims that the ruling violates her First Amendment free speech rights. "Party planners aren't like the pizza delivery guy who just drops off food and goes away. We work with the client to put the event together, to create the activities and entertainment and atmosphere the client wants. We - along with cake bakers, entertainers, photographers, and the like - are essentially paid to be part of the celebration. It is unconscionable for the government to determine what its citizens must celebrate."

Her legal team cites Wooley v. Maynard as the key to her defense. The 1977 decision ruled that a state cannot compel motorists against their will to display a state motto (in this case, New Hampshire's "Live Free or Die") on their motor vehicle license plates. An amicus filed regarding a similar case, also also citing Wooley, stating that "speech compulsions are generally as unconstitutional as speech restrictions," and that such a compulsion "invades the sphere of intellect and spirit which it is the purpose of the First Amendment to our Constitution to reserve from all official control...Creating expression...requires sympathy with the intellectual or emotional message that the expression conveys, or at least absence of disagreement with such a message."

Stroud complains about media misreporting of the case. "The talking heads keep saying I'm discriminating against gun rights supporters. I'm not. I've planned parties for some of the club members in the past. I am discriminating against a certain type of event."

Musician Ted Nugent quipped to one reporter that if she loses her case, Piers Morgan should buy out her business. "Second Amendment patriots are boycotting him, so that way she doesn't have to do any more RKBA parties."

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