The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Tuesday that they will not hear a case which involves pharmacists in the state of Washington refusing to dispense birth control based on their religious beliefs.
Following Monday’s historic ruling defending women’s abortion rights in Texas, SCOTUS justices said they will not review a Washington state rule compelling pharmacies to fill prescriptions despite religious grievances, USA Today reports.
“A pharmacist’s personal religious beliefs must not be allowed to get between a patient and her doctor,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “The Supreme Court did the right thing by refusing to hear this case.”
Not all justices were supportive of the decision. According to Patheos, it only takes four justices to hear a case at the Supreme Court. The three conservatives, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas all wanted to take up the case and dissented when the other five refused.
“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,” Alito wrote.
According to USA Today, the case is a commercial version of others that have come before it in recent years. From nonprofit and for-profit employers seeking religious exemptions, the Washington case is similar to Hobby Lobby’s objection to the federal rule requiring most health insurance plans to include free coverage of contraceptives.
“For over 40 years, Congress and all 50 states have protected the right of pharmacists, doctors, nurses, and other health professionals to step aside when asked to participate in what they consider to be an abortion,” the pharmacy’s petition seeking Supreme Court review said. “The decision below authorizes a dangerous intrusion on this right.”
The Americans United for Separation of Church and State agreed with the court’s decision in a filed “Friend of the Court Brief.”
“The Free-Exercise Clause of the First Amendment should [not] be used as a sword to impose the beliefs of one faith upon those who do not share the faith,” the brief said. “That curtails religious freedom instead of advancing it.”
Featured image: Larry Downing (Salon)
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