Washington Law Review


Noel E. Horton


In Stormans, Inc. v. Selecky, a group of Washington pharmacists contended their religious beliefs precluded them from dispensing the drug Plan B, a post-coital emergency contraceptive. They based their argument on rights conferred by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. A United States District Court found in the pharmacists’ favor and enjoined enforcement of rules issued by the Washington State Board of Pharmacy requiring pharmacies to deliver medications. The Ninth Circuit reversed, finding that the district court erroneously applied a heightened level of scrutiny to a neutral law of general applicability. Interestingly, the pharmacists did not bring a claim under the Washington State Constitution, a document that has been interpreted to confer greater protection for free exercise rights than the U.S. Constitution. This Comment argues that even under the Washington State Constitution’s heightened protection of free exercise, the pharmacists’ position in Stormans would ultimately fail. The Board’s rules protect public health and accommodate individual religious objections, thereby satisfying the Washington State Supreme Court’s strict scrutiny test.

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