In The Washington Post, Robert Barnes writes about the Supreme Court’s recent decision not to review Washington State’s regulations on pharmacies, which mandate that every pharmacy in the state, private or otherwise, must have a pharmacist on hand willing to dispense emergency contraception.
The owners of private pharmacy Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia, Washington, initially challenged those regulations on the grounds that it was against their religious beliefs to dispense emergency contraception like Plan B.
Although a district judge initially struck down the regulations, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit later overruled the district judge’s decision.
After the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal, Justice Samuel Alito wrote a 15-page dissent against the decision, saying that the Court’s verdict should be a “cause for great concern” among religious freedom advocates and that the Court should have taken up the case “to ensure that Washington’s novel and concededly unnecessary burden on religious objectors does not trample on fundamental rights.”
The ability to exercise religion in the running of a private business is a logical extension of the Constitutional right to “free exercise of religion” and goes hand in hand with the freedom of association.