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Supreme Court Justice Says Those Who Value Religious Freedom Have "Cause for Great Concern" After Recent Ruling

Leah Marieann Klett : Jul 1, 2016  The Gospel Herald

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. says the ruling is an "ominous sign."

(Washington, DC) – [The Gospel Herald] Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. has warned that the Supreme Court's decision to turn away an appeal by a family-owned pharmacy that cited Christian beliefs in objecting to providing emergency contraceptives to women under a Washington state rule is an "ominous sign" for those who value religious freedom. (Photo Credit: REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

On Tuesday, the justices declined to grant an appeal in the case of Stormans v. Wiesman, which involves Christian pharmacists suing Washington over a law mandating that pharmacies provide contraceptives despite conscience objections.

Reuters notes that three conservatives among the eight justices - Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas - argued that the court should have agreed to hear the appeal by the Stormans family, which owns Ralph's Thriftway grocery story and pharmacy in Olympia.

"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 warned in his 15-page retort.

Alito argued that the rule, adopted by the Washington Board of Pharmacy (now the Pharmacy Commission), singled out people of faith to deny their freedom.

"There are strong reasons to doubt whether the regulations were adopted for - or that they actually serve - any legitimate purpose," Alito wrote. "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."

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