During a recent speech in Washington U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito suggested that religious freedom might be “in greater danger” than the right to free speech.
“I am reminded of a song by the latest recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature: It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there,” he said.
Alito pointed to a case in Washington State in which the owner of a pharmacy was required by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to stock the morning-after pill despite his religious convictions regarding abortifacients. “It violates their religious beliefs to sell these drugs,” Alito said. “Instead of selling them, the pharmacy referred customers to one of more than 30 other pharmacies located within a five-mile radius.” The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
“In this case, there is strong evidence that the law was enacted to rid the state of those troublesome pharmacists who objected to these drugs on religious grounds,” Alito said, “but the Ninth Circuit sustained the law, and the Supreme Court did not even think that case deserved review.”
Alito, a Roman Catholic, lamented that “Washington would rather have no pharmacy than one that doesn’t toe the line on abortifacient emergency contraceptives.”
“This case is an ominous sign. At issue are Washington State regulations that are likely to make a pharmacist unemployable if he or she objects on religious grounds to dispensing certain prescription medications,” Alito wrote in his dissent from the court. “[T]here 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.”
“Yet the Ninth Circuit held that the regulations do not violate the First Amendment, and this Court does not deem the case worthy of our time,” he bemoaned. “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.”
The United States “shall repudiate very principle of its constitution.” Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, page 451.