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U.S. Supreme Court delays decision on whether to hear Stormans vs Wiesman

By Janet Blanding

Ten years ago this month, a boycott against Ralph’s and Bayview began after numerous Olympia women had prescriptions for Plan B refused at Ralph’s Pharmacy. Despite more than 20 complaints filed with the Board of Pharmacy, dozens of protests outside the store, the promulgation of state pharmacy regulations guaranteeing patient access to medication, and a court battle that has dragged on for nearly a decade, the owners of Ralph’s continue to insist that stocking and dispensing emergency contraception interferes with the free exercise of their religion. So insistent are they, that when the 9th Circuit Appellate Court did not see things their way, they appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It was expected that the Supreme Court would decide whether or not to review the Stormans case in mid-April. And indeed, Stormans v. Wiesman was originally scheduled to be discussed at the justices’ conference on April 15. However, the discussion of the case was rescheduled, and rescheduled, and rescheduled again. Finally, it made it into the justices’ May 12 conference, but no decision about whether to review the case or not was forthcoming. Instead, Stormans v. Wiesman was relisted for the justices’ conference of May 19, after which the docket showed a records request. This means that one or more justices asked to see the court record, presumably from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, although no details are provided on the docket. According to Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog, this indicates that someone is interested enough in the case to take a closer look.  When Works In Progress went to press, Stormans v. Wiesman was once again scheduled for discussion during the justices’ conference of Thursday, May 26, meaning a decision on whether the case will be taken up by the Supreme Court could be announced as soon as Tuesday, May 31, when the SCOTUS orders list is released.  However, the possibility of the case discussion being yet again rescheduled or discussed without a decision being reached still remains.

Janet Blanding has been writing about the Ralph’s boycott and subsequent lawsuit since 2006, when her Plan B prescription could not be filled there. After a year-long investigation, the Board of Pharmacy dismissed her complaint without action against Ralph’s.

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