SCOTUS: No Free Exercise of Religion Allowed in Washington State

 

shutterstock_171501734There was a lot of noise this week about how the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a Texas law that imposed regulations on abortion clinics, but there was little notice of a more important ruling. In Stormans v. Weisman, the Supreme Court declined (5 – 3) to hear a petition on a Ninth Circuit case out of Washington State that affirmed a state law requiring all pharmacies to stock and dispense the “Plan B” pill, which can act either as an emergency contraceptive or an abortifacient.

The Stormans own Ralph’s Thriftway, a grocery store/pharmacy with two locations a couple of miles apart in Olympia, Washington. Despite the Ralph’s employees’ willingness to refer customers to any of the 30 other nearby pharmacies that stock the drug, Washington State is determined that traditionalist Christians must not be allowed to run a pharmacy that does not stock the pill. That is unfortunate, because the Washington State law is a clear violation of the Stormans’ First Amendment right to the free exercise of their religion. Writing for the dissenters (and joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas), Justice Samuel Alito writes:

This case is an ominous sign. At issue are Washington State regulations that are likely to make a pharmacist unemployable if he or she objects on religious grounds to dispensing certain prescrip- tion medications. There are strong reasons to doubt whether the regulations were adopted for—or that they actually serve—any legitimate purpose. And there is much evidence that the impetus for the adoption of the regulations was hostility to pharmacists whose religious beliefs regarding abortion and contraception are out of step with prevailing opinion in the State. Yet the Ninth Circuit held that the regulations do not violate the First Amendment, and this Court does not deem the case wor- thy of our time. If this is a sign of how religious liberty claims will be treated in the years ahead, those who value religious freedom have cause for great concern.

Indeed.

Published in Domestic Policy, Law
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 53 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    MJ,

    How easy it would have been to accommodate the religious beliefs of the Stormans.

    When someone seeking an abortifacient is inconvenienced in the most minor of ways by the provider’s religious beliefs, the right of the free exercise of religion supersedes.

    This completely innocuous principle that certainly isn’t what those truly interested in Religious Liberty should settle for, would have been enough for the Supreme Court to sidestep the confrontation. Instead, they have chosen to walk over Religious Liberty with reckless disregard.

    The Supremes have left-wing derangement syndrome big time.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #31
  2. Mate De Inactive
    Mate De
    @MateDe

    Leftism is a religion, I would like there to be separate between church and state that includes leftism.

    • #32
  3. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    Bob W:Are there any other drugs that are required to be stocked? Or only this one? It would be interesting to know the answer to that. It’s not a life saving drug and plenty others are.

    I do not think that any pharmacy is required to stock any particular line of products, except that Washington State requires all pharmacies to stock and dispense these “Plan B” pills.   This is a pretty obvious attack on the traditionalist moral position opposing abortion.

    In this case, the State of Washington has established that the only acceptable religions for a pharmacist to hold are those that do not make a moral claim that opposes abortion.   And the Supreme Court just voted 5 to 3 to allow that to stand and not hear the appeal.

    Lord, help us.

    • #33
  4. Freesmith Inactive
    Freesmith
    @Freesmith

    Hoyacon:

    Freesmith:MJBubba

    “Dreher asked if the Court will make a similar ruling when a red state passes a law to force pharmaceutical manufacturers to resume supplying the drugs used for executions.”

    Nice. Crunchy conservative Dreher plays Debate Club games instead of exhorting his readers to elect the one man who can change the makeup of the very Supreme Court that is abridging his own conservative principles.

    Or maybe his conservative principles prevent him from doing just that.

    So Dreher’s conservative principles prevent him from doing the one thing that will defend or help to re-establish his and his nation’s conservative principles.

    The Constitution may not be a suicide pact, but for Dreher, and I assume you, conservative principles are.

    You’re both fine representatives of Conservatism, Inc., and of The Party of Nothing Can Be Done.

    • #34
  5. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily
    @tigerlily

    Lily Bart:

    Kate Braestrup:I’m sorry, MJ. This is a lousy ruling, for many, many reasons. (The Left is going steadily nuts, isn’t it?)

    I don’t think they’re ‘going nuts’. This is who they’ve always been, they’re just getting bolder, and they’re winning.

    Yes. We’re just at the beginning of this assault. It will continue until any & all who do not abide the sacraments of this new Progressive Religion are driven out of the public sphere.

    • #35
  6. Irregardless Member
    Irregardless
    @

    Mate De: actually quite diabolical

    Yup.

    • #36
  7. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    This made it to the main feed, and pretty quick.  I appreciate them promoting a member post rather than going over the top of the member with a new post on the main feed on the same topic.  I suppose the powers that be have been listening.

    Ricochet editors did a good job of tightening it up, but in the process a block quote got absorbed into the text.  I had raided some of the language in the original post from the column by Julia Duin at the link I gave in comment #1.

    • #37
  8. Mark Coolidge
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Vance Richards:

    MJBubba: Despite the Ralph’s employees’ willingness to refer customers to any of the 30 other nearby pharmacies that stock the drug, Washington State is determined that traditionalist Christians must not be allowed to run a pharmacy that does not stock the pill

    So, no one is being denied access to the pills. This is just a case of the state exerting control and saying, “You believe what we tell you to believe.”

    Let me take a wild guess, Planned Parenthood made significant contributions to the governor’s campaign?

    And the ACLU supports the state. Kind of makes you wonder what the “CL” stands for.

    Washington State actually agreed to the stipulation that there were 30 other pharmacies within a few miles that would fill the prescription and that there was no actual harm or even inconvenience involved in failing to fill the prescription.  It confirms that this was about crushing dissidents as an example to others of the costs of not conforming to the State ideology, and not about remedying some harm.

    • #38
  9. Brad2971 Member
    Brad2971
    @

    Freesmith:

    Hoyacon:

    Freesmith:MJBubba

    “Dreher asked if the Court will make a similar ruling when a red state passes a law to force pharmaceutical manufacturers to resume supplying the drugs used for executions.”

    Nice. Crunchy conservative Dreher plays Debate Club games instead of exhorting his readers to elect the one man who can change the makeup of the very Supreme Court that is abridging his own conservative principles.

    Or maybe his conservative principles prevent him from doing just that.

    So Dreher’s conservative principles prevent him from doing the one thing that will defend or help to re-establish his and his nation’s conservative principles.

    The Constitution may not be a suicide pact, but for Dreher, and I assume you, conservative principles are.

    You’re both fine representatives of Conservatism, Inc., and of The Party of Nothing Can Be Done.

    Just out of curiosity, what “conservative principles” prevent folks like Dreher and yourself from engaging in Street Theater over this purported injustice? At some point and time, people tune out the Vote For X argument and want something…a little more immediate and substantial done.

    • #39
  10. Mark Coolidge
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Kate Braestrup:I’m sorry, MJ. This is a lousy ruling, for many, many reasons. (The Left is going steadily nuts, isn’t it?)

    And it’s not just about religion.  The lesson of the past couple of decades is that it is never enough for the Left.  There’s always a new law, a new regulation, more money to be spent and taxes to be raised, another area of people’s lives that used to be considered private that must urgently be addressed because of its political implications. It’s so urgent that there is no time to look back and reflect on the impact of the previous set of urgent actions.

    They would have us believe that extreme measures of government intervention are needed because racism, sexism and prejudice against gays are so much worse than they were 50 years ago.  To accomplish this, all of the voluntary ways we find for doing things together whether they be business, charities, religious organizations, the VFW, the Boy Scouts, your book club etc, must either be aligned with Progressive ideology or crushed.

    And, in many arenas, like education, they’ve already won and are merely stalking the battlefield in order to execute the enemy wounded.

    • #40
  11. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    They should immediately start taking orders for this drug.  And take nine months to deliver them.

    • #41
  12. Merina Smith Inactive
    Merina Smith
    @MerinaSmith

    Brad2971:

    Freesmith:

    Hoyacon:

    Freesmith:MJBubba

    “Dreher asked if the Court will make a similar ruling when a red state passes a law to force pharmaceutical manufacturers to resume supplying the drugs used for executions.”

    Nice. Crunchy conservative Dreher plays Debate Club games instead of exhorting his readers to elect the one man who can change the makeup of the very Supreme Court that is abridging his own conservative principles.

    Or maybe his conservative principles prevent him from doing just that.

    So Dreher’s conservative principles prevent him from doing the one thing that will defend or help to re-establish his and his nation’s conservative principles.

    The Constitution may not be a suicide pact, but for Dreher, and I assume you, conservative principles are.

    You’re both fine representatives of Conservatism, Inc., and of The Party of Nothing Can Be Done.

    Just out of curiosity, what “conservative principles” prevent folks like Dreher and yourself from engaging in Street Theater over this purported injustice? At some point and time, people tune out the Vote For X argument and want something…a little more immediate and substantial done.

    Yes–organize the local churches and get out there and let the world know that the left is bullying people.  Do it now.

    • #42
  13. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    Brian McMenomy:Somewhere, Ronald Reagan has his head in his hands, wondering “what was I thinking?” Never mind how terrible a thing it is that (normally) 9 people have this much power, to essentially gut the 1st Amendment.

    You know why Kennedy is on the bench? The refusal to defend Robert Bork.

    • #43
  14. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    Hoyacon:

    Freesmith:MJBubba

    “Dreher asked if the Court will make a similar ruling when a red state passes a law to force pharmaceutical manufacturers to resume supplying the drugs used for executions.”

    Nice. Crunchy conservative Dreher plays Debate Club games instead of exhorting his readers to elect the one man who can change the makeup of the very Supreme Court that is abridging his own conservative principles.

    Or maybe his conservative principles prevent him from doing just that.

    Yes and I wonder how those principles help the Stromans when faced with a communist court?

    • #44
  15. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Interesting isn’t it? We have a government and judges that cannot bring themselves to say the words Islamic Jihad to describe those who fight to die in attempting to kill innocents. They have no problem labeling Christians who will not kill innocents as fanatics. What a wonderful world.

    • #45
  16. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    Robert McReynolds:

    Brian McMenomy:Somewhere, Ronald Reagan has his head in his hands, wondering “what was I thinking?” Never mind how terrible a thing it is that (normally) 9 people have this much power, to essentially gut the 1st Amendment.

    You know why Kennedy is on the bench? The refusal to defend Robert Bork.

    Yes, good point, this was the era that started it — it was the pent up hatred and fuming about Reagan’s successes that did it. The left took what was in their control — the media and the majority in the Congress — and went to work in the politics of personal destruction.

    Then there was Clarence Thomas, then Newt Gingrich, then George W Bush (he got it the worst) and then Sarah Palin and finally Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Interesting arc through recent American history, isn’t it? Long knives over 3 decades.

    • #46
  17. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    MJBubba:

    There was some chatter on the left about how the Plan B drugs do not cause abortions. That is because the American Medical Association conveniently re-defined the term “abortion.” The result is the same: a human life gets extinguished.

    My understanding is that it depends on the circumstances of use. If taken shortly after sex, it’s best described as an emergency contraceptive, as it prevents fertilization. Taken somewhat later, it can prevent implementation of a fertilized egg, which should count as an abortion.

    I got to discussing this with a young man this afternoon.  As soon as he heard “Plan B,” he started in on fertilized egg and how many naturally abort, and how uncertain….

    As soon as he paused I said:

    I don’t care how much careful nuance you want to apply, and you are free to parse and quibble and rationalize to your heart’s content.  What is important to me is that the pharmacist should be able to make his own decision about where he comes down, the same as you.  You do not have to agree with me on this point to recognize that the pharmacist should have rights.

    There is no compelling reason for the state to force him to go against his moral choice.  There were 30 other pharmacies all willing to dispense these pills.  But, for the sake of enforcing the establishment of the state’s morality, they are forcing the pharmacist out of business.

    • #47
  18. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    MJBubba:

    There was some chatter on the left about how the Plan B drugs do not cause abortions. That is because the American Medical Association conveniently re-defined the term “abortion.” The result is the same: a human life gets extinguished.

    My understanding is that it depends on the circumstances of use. If taken shortly after sex, it’s best described as an emergency contraceptive, as it prevents fertilization. Taken somewhat later, it can prevent implementation of a fertilized egg, which should count as an abortion.

    Tom, your understanding comes from the redefinition of conception by ACOG in the 1960s as beginning when implantation occurs, not when fertilization occurs some days previous. They didn’t just redefine pregnancy, but also the beginning of life.

    If I prevent the implantation of a living human being, interrupting its development, I am responsible for the death of that human being, or “products of conception,” as we can call other people. I disagree completely that “it’s best described as an emergency contraception.” That is a deliberately deceptive description, far from “the best.”

    • #48
  19. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    MJBubba:

    There was some chatter on the left about how the Plan B drugs do not cause abortions. That is because the American Medical Association conveniently re-defined the term “abortion.” The result is the same: a human life gets extinguished.

    My understanding is that it depends on the circumstances of use. If taken shortly after sex, it’s best described as an emergency contraceptive, as it prevents fertilization. Taken somewhat later, it can prevent implementation of a fertilized egg, which should count as an abortion.

    Tom, your understanding comes from the redefinition of conception by ACOG in the 1960s as beginning when implantation occurs, not when fertilization occurs some days previous. They didn’t just redefine pregnancy, but also the beginning of life.

    If I prevent the implantation of a living human being, interrupting its development, I am responsible for the death of that human being, or “products of conception,” as we can call other people. I disagree completely that “it’s best described as an emergency contraception.” That is a deliberately deceptive description, far from “the best.”

    Thanks for the clarity on this, MT. Very interesting. It’s all up to God, isn’t it? Conception is a God thing — we have no right to kill God’s things nor God’s ideas nor God’s people.

    • #49
  20. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    I think what confuses people is that the acts and feelings around conception (sex, I mean) seem to be ungodly and maybe the opposite of God-centered activities. It enrages leftists and liberals for us to teach that sex and God are related, even interrelated, yet we also have teachings that want to control who is allowed to take part in sexual acts. These teachings get confused with the very human — even animalistic — desires for non-productive (no children even possible) relationships such as coitus so contrived as to prevent pregnancy, gay sex, post menopausal sex and many other types, I suppose.

    • #50
  21. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Larry Koler:

    I think what confuses people is that the acts and feelings around conception (sex, I mean) seem to be ungodly and maybe the opposite of God-centered activities. It enrages leftists and liberals for us to teach that sex and God are related, even interrelated, yet we also have teachings that want to control who is allowed to take part in sexual acts.

    Long live the real Augustine.

    • #51
  22. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    I looked up the coverage of the trial from Washington State.

    “With 33 pharmacies stocking the drug within 5 miles of our store, it is extremely disappointing that the court and the state demand that we violate our conscience or lose our family business,” said a statement from Kevin Stormans, president of the company that owns Ralph’s Thriftway, Stormans Inc.

    Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose office defended the state rules, welcomed the ruling. “Decisions regarding medical care — including reproductive rights — are appropriately between a patient and his or her medical professionals,” he said a statement.

    http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/politics-government/article28436038.html#storylink=cpy

    That sounds like a non-sequitur to me.

    • #52
  23. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    James Gawron:MJ,

    How easy it would have been to accommodate the religious beliefs of the Stormans.

    When someone seeking an abortifacient is inconvenienced in the most minor of ways by the provider’s religious beliefs, the right of the free exercise of religion supersedes.

    This completely innocuous principle that certainly isn’t what those truly interested in Religious Liberty should settle for, would have been enough for the Supreme Court to sidestep the confrontation. Instead, they have chosen to walk over Religious Liberty with reckless disregard.

    The Supremes have left-wing derangement syndrome big time.

    Regards,

    Jim

    Agree, Jim.

    • #53
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.