This week, the Supreme Court denied a writ of certiorari for Stormans, Inc. v. Wiesman, in a move that should cause great concern for those who value religious freedom. Those are Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito’s words, not mine. Refusing to hear this case and issue a ruling has left Washington state pharmacists in the lurch, unable to express their sincerely held religious beliefs. Thanks to Justice Alito, we can see the reasons why this development should be so concerning:
1. Pharmacists can refuse to deliver a drug/device, but not for religious, moral, or personal reasons.
Don’t voice personal beliefs, or you will go out of business. Under the Delivery Rule adopted by the Washington State Pharmacy Board, pharmacies must deliver lawfully prescribed drugs or devices, if approved by the FDA. There are exceptions to the rule, and one in particular which stands out: if a drug is temporarily out of stock [§246–869–010(1)(e)]. Theoretically, a pharmacy could continue to claim exceptions (such as a perpetually out of stock Plan-B contraceptive) but be secretly harboring illegal religious or moral objections.
The situation is dually troubling for the First Amendment. Either you must violate your beliefs or lie about them. First Amendment protections have broken down to the point where yelling “fire” in a crowded theater and saying “I think abortion is murder” are equally problematic. One gets you thrown in jail, and the other puts you out of business. Okay, that may not be perfectly equivalent, but it is not as if anyone wants to be saying, “Silver lining: my livelihood may be gone, but at least I’m not in prison. Continue Reading