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Case

Stormans v. Wiesman

Last Updated: 5/29/2020

Overview

What's at stake

  • The right of pharmacists and pharmacy owners to act according to their faith
  • The right to express and live out one’s faith in the marketplace
  • The right to refrain from participating in the taking of human life

Summary

The Stormans family and pharmacists Margo Thelen and Rhonda Mesler have over 100 years of combined experience in pharmacy in Washington State. The Stormans, Margo, and Rhonda are Christians whose faith forbids them from participating in the destruction of human life, including dispensing abortion-inducing drugs, like the morning-after pill (Plan B) and ella. Prior to 2007, in Washington State, pharmacies were permitted to refer any customer requesting one of these drugs to a nearby pharmacy that dispensed it.

In 2007, after extreme pressure from pro-abortion groups, like Planned Parenthood, and Washington’s governor, the Washington Board of Pharmacy issued a new regulation requiring pharmacies to dispense Plan B and made religiously motivated referrals illegal—while at the same time permitting referrals for almost an unlimited number of business and convenience reasons.

The Stormans, Margo, and Rhonda challenged the new regulation in federal court. After a 12-day trial in 2012, the court ruled that the state Board of Pharmacy cannot force the family-owned pharmacy and two pharmacists to choose between their professions and their religious beliefs. The court held, “The facts of this case lead to the inescapable conclusion that the Board’s rules discriminate intentionally and impinge Plaintiffs’ fundamental right to free exercise of religion.”

The State of Washington and interveners, represented by Planned Parenthood and Legal Voice, appealed the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  On July 23, 2015, a three-judge panel reversed the lower court’s decision, upholding the Washington Board of Pharmacy rules that force pharmacists to dispense drugs contrary to their conscience instead of allowing them to refer customers to other pharmacists as they are allowed to do in all 49 other states.  

Alliance Defending Freedom and its allies at Ellis, Li & McKinstry PLLC, a Seattle law firm, and the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court.  

Unfortunately, on June 28, 2016, the Court denied review of the case.

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom defended the Stormans family, Margo Thelen, and Rhonda Mesler free of charge.

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Resources

Legal Documents

Court
Title
Date
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International Society for Krishna Consciousness and Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye Inc.", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-international-society-for-krishna-consciousness-and-church-of-the-lukumi-babalu-aye-inc.pdf", "Date": "2/5/16 9:35:28 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Washington State Catholic Conference", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-united-states-conference-of-catholic-bishops-and-washington-state-catholic-conference.pdf", "Date": "2/5/16 9:35:28 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - The Bruderhof and the National Committee for Amish Religious Freedom", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-the-bruderhof-and-the-national-committee-for-amish-religious-freedom.pdf", "Date": "2/5/16 9:35:28 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - Public Advocate of the United States et al.", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-paus.pdf", "Date": "2/5/16 9:35:28 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - 38 national and state pharmacists associations including the American Pharmacists Association", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-38-national-and-state-pharmacists-associations-including-the-american-pharmacists-association.pdf", "Date": "2/5/16 9:35:27 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - Agudath Israel of America", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-agudath-israel-of-america.pdf", "Date": "2/5/16 9:35:27 PM"}, {"Court": "AppellateCourt", "Title": "9th Circuit opinion", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---9th-circuit-opinion.pdf", "Date": "7/23/15 9:35:27 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - Christian Legal Society et al.", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-cls-dfl.pdf", "Date": "2/4/16 9:35:28 PM"}, {"Court": "TrialCourt", "Title": "Stipulation", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---stipulation.pdf", "Date": "7/7/10 9:35:27 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Petition for writ of certiorari", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---petition-for-writ-of-certiorari.pdf", "Date": "1/4/16 9:35:28 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - 29 religious liberty scholars", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-29-religious-liberty-scholars.pdf", "Date": "2/5/16 9:35:27 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - American Association of Prolife Obstetricians & Gynecologists et al.", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-5-pro-life-medical-associations.pdf", "Date": "2/4/16 9:35:27 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - 13 states_Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-13-states_arizona-alabama-arkansas-georgia-michigan-montana-nebraska-nevada-oklahoma-south-carolina-texas-utah-and-west-virginia.pdf", "Date": "2/5/16 9:35:27 PM"}, {"Court": "TrialCourt", "Title": "Permanent injunction", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---permanent-injunction.pdf", "Date": "2/22/12 9:35:27 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Dissent from denial", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---dissent-from-denial.pdf", "Date": "6/28/16 9:35:28 PM"}, {"Court": "TrialCourt", "Title": "District court opinion", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---district-court-opinion.pdf", "Date": "2/22/12 9:35:27 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-center-for-constitutional-jurisprudence.pdf", "Date": "2/4/16 9:35:28 PM"}, {"Court": "AppellateCourt", "Title": "Supplemental brief filed with 9th Circuit", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---supplemental-brief-filed-with-9th-circuit.pdf", "Date": "7/28/14 9:35:27 PM"}, {"Court": "TrialCourt", "Title": "Findings of fact and conclusions of law", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---findings-of-fact-and-conclusions-of-law.pdf", "Date": "2/22/12 9:35:27 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - 43 members of Congress", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-43-members-of-congress.pdf", "Date": "2/5/16 9:35:27 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Petitioners' reply brief", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---petitioners'-reply-brief.pdf", "Date": "3/21/16 9:35:29 PM"}]}

Biographies

Kristen K. Waggoner

General Counsel

Kristen K. Waggoner serves as General Counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom. Her role includes oversight of the U.S. legal division, a team of 100 attorneys and staff who engage in litigation, public advocacy, and legislative support.


Additional Resources

 

Video news release: Stormans v. Wiesman

Audio: Kristen Waggoner explaining the case.

 
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