Phyllis Young, a retiree, rents three bedrooms in her family home using the name Aloha Bed & Breakfast to make ends meet. She welcomes everyone as guests provided they abide by her “house rules,” including that no romantic partners share a bedroom unless they are a married man and woman. When a same-sex couple tried to reserve a bedroom in advance, Mrs. Young explained that accommodating them would violate her religious beliefs, cited Hawai`i’s Mrs. Murphy exemption, and referred the couple to a nearby friend who was happy to host them.
The Hawai`i Intermediate Court of Appeals judicially rewrote the “Mrs. Murphy exemption” for the first time in Mrs. Young’s case, holding that it applied only to long-term rentals. The Court then declared Mrs. Young’s family home a place of public accommodation, and held her in violation of state public-accommodations law. This renders her liable for compensatory, treble, and punitive damages, statutory fines, and ruinous attorney fees and costs in conflict with this Court’s precedent and decisions by the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and D.C. Circuits.
The questions presented are:
1. Whether holding Mrs. Young liable without fair notice that her actions could be unlawful violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.
2. Whether the Commission’s efforts to punish Mrs. Young for exercising her religious beliefs in her own home violate the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause.