CASEStormans v. Wiesman

Client Story
Stormans Family

For nearly four generations and over 70 years, the Stormans family has owned and operated Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftways in Olympia, Washington. These independent, neighborhood grocery stores, together, are an important part of the community. “We’ve grown up with a lot of people, and they view us as a being a part of the community,” Kevin Stormans, president of Stormans, Inc., says. “We want to give back and respect that, because we live here. We want to make it great, too.”

 

Since the beginning, the Stormans have run their business consistent with their Christian faith. That faith informs their decisions about their stores, from the way they interact with employees and their community, to their decision to not stock early abortifacient drugs, like the morning-after pill (Plan B) and
ella in Ralph’s Thriftway’s pharmacy.

In 2006, Kevin Stormans received a phone call asking why he didn’t carry Plan B in his pharmacy. The question initially caught him off guard. When Kevin decided to research the drug, he learned that the FDA warned that it could prevent implantation of a fertilized egg – in other words, it could terminate human life after conception. Kevin and the rest of the Stormans family knew they couldn’t stock the drug because of their religious beliefs. They believe that life is sacred, and they can’t participate in the taking of human life. The family instructed employees to refer customers to the over 30 nearby pharmacies that regularly carry Plan B.

Pro-abortion activists, including Planned Parenthood, continued to “test-shop” Ralph’s. They would ask for Plan B and then file complaints with the State of Washington. They also began protesting the store, blocking entrances, disturbing traffic, creating a website to promote a boycott, and picketing. Even the Governor of Washington joined the boycott.

Throughout all of this time, pharmacies in Washington State (and every other state) were permitted to refer customers to nearby pharmacies – for any reason and for any drug. But in 2007, after extreme pressure from pro-abortion groups, threats by the Governor to replace the Pharmacy Commission and her eventual replacement of two Commission members, the Commission issued new regulations designed to prohibit pharmacies from referring Plan B
customers for religious reasons. In practice, the Commission allowed pharmacies to continue to refer customers – for essentially any other reason. 

The Stormans were faced with a tough choice—sell Plan B, close the pharmacy, or file a lawsuit. Alliance Defending Freedom and allied attorneys at Ellis, Li & McKinstry PPLC in Seattle filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Stormans and pharmacists Rhonda Mesler and Margo Thelen.

After holding a 12-day federal trial with 22 witnesses and nearly 800 exhibits, the court ruled that the Pharmacy Commission cannot force the family-owned pharmacy and two pharmacists to choose between their professions and their religious beliefs. The Court found that no customer has ever been unable to obtain timely access to Plan B or any other drug due to religious objections. It also held that the rules were “drafted for the primary – perhaps
sole – purpose of forcing pharmacies (and, in turn, pharmacists) to dispense Plan B over their sincerely-held religious beliefs,” and are, as a result, unconstitutional.

The State and Intervenors, represented by Planned Parenthood, appealed, and the Ninth Circuit reversed the trial court’s decision. The implications of this ruling are significant, not only for pharmacists and pharmacy owners individually, but also for the business of pharmacy. Health care providers have enjoyed the ability to engage in facilitated referral for many years. These kinds of referrals are often the best means of meeting a patient’s needs in a timely fashion. The Ninth Circuit ruling prohibits pharmacists from engaging in facilitated referral, forcing pharmacies to stock and dispense drugs demanded by the state and/or patients. It also conflicts with the position of 34 pharmacy organizations, including the American Pharmacist Association. These groups have called the regulations at issue “truly radical” and “grossly out of step with state regulatory practice.”

For these reasons, Alliance Defending Freedom, the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom, and Ellis, Li & McKinstry PLLC filed a petition with the United States Supreme Court, asking them to hear the Stormans’ case.

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

In the meantime, the Stormans family remains committed to honoring God in all they do. Kevin recently said, “I don’t know what the end result’s going to be. But it’s clear we’re here for a purpose. I’ll just ride this ship and do the right thing and believe God’s going to use that for His glory.”

 


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Summary
For four generations, Kevin Stormans’ family has owned Ralph’s Thriftway, a store located in Washington state. Regulations passed by the Washington State Pharmacy Board in mid-2007 mandated that pharmacies like Ralph’s Thriftway must stock and dispense the “morning-after” pill if requested by a patient. Stormans chose not to stock the product in his pharmacy after reading research demonstrating that the pill can prevent the implantation of a human embryo, an early-stage abortion procedure which Stormans opposes on religious, moral, and ethical grounds. Stormans, Inc., and two pharmacists, Margo Thelen and Rhonda Mesler, who work elsewhere, are challenging the regulations in federal court.
News Releases

US Supreme Court allows extreme Washington state pharmacy policy to stand

Sanctity of Life

US Supreme Court allows extreme Washington state pharmacy policy to stand

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday.

Jun 28, 2016 Read More

Broad support for pharmacists’ freedom, near-unanimous opposition to extreme Wash. state policy

Religious Freedom

Broad support for pharmacists’ freedom, near-unanimous opposition to extreme Wash. state policy

Briefs filed with US Supreme Court include 13 states, 38 pharmacy associations, more than 4,600 medical professionals.

Feb 09, 2016 Read More

Pharmacists ask US Supreme Court to weigh in on Wash. state law that Planned Parenthood wrote

Religious Freedom

Pharmacists ask US Supreme Court to weigh in on Wash. state law that Planned Parenthood wrote

Gov. Gregoire worked with abortion giant to craft most punitive anti-freedom referral policy in US

Jan 04, 2016 Read More

Wash. pharmacy, pharmacists will appeal 9th Cir. ruling that forces them to violate their beliefs

Sanctity of Life

Wash. pharmacy, pharmacists will appeal 9th Cir. ruling that forces them to violate their beliefs

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Vice President of Legal Services Kristen Waggoner.

Jul 23, 2015 Read More

ADF: Govt shouldn’t force Christian pharmacists to dispense abortion-inducing drugs

Sanctity of Life

ADF: Govt shouldn’t force Christian pharmacists to dispense abortion-inducing drugs

Lead counsel arguing on behalf of pharmacy, pharmacists available to media following 9th Circuit hearing

Nov 19, 2014 Read More

US Supreme Court win supports Wash. pharmacist case

Sanctity of Life

US Supreme Court win supports Wash. pharmacist case

Legal teams who won Conestoga/Hobby Lobby decision file brief about effect on 9th Circuit lawsuit

Aug 01, 2014 Read More

Court: Wash. pharmacists can’t be forced to violate their consciences

Sanctity of Life

Court: Wash. pharmacists can’t be forced to violate their consciences

ADF-allied attorneys win significant rights of conscience case

Feb 22, 2012 Read More

Patients’ health, pharmacists’ conscience protected in Wash., court agrees to halt trial

Sanctity of Life

Patients’ health, pharmacists’ conscience protected in Wash., court agrees to halt trial

ADF-allied attorneys secure stay after state agrees to reverse course, act in best interests of both patients and pharmacists

Jul 14, 2010 Read More

Bad news from 9th Circuit, but pharmacy still protected

Sanctity of Life

Bad news from 9th Circuit, but pharmacy still protected

ADF official comment

Jul 08, 2009 Read More

ADF attorney available to media following ‘right of conscience’ hearing

9th Circuit thwarts Wash. state’s attempt to stall conscience rights

Sanctity of Life

9th Circuit thwarts Wash. state’s attempt to stall conscience rights

ADF and ADF-allied attorneys prevail in arguing that conscience rights for pharmacists should be respected while state’s appeal proceeds

May 02, 2008 Read More

Court stops enforcement of Wash. regulations targeting pharmacists, pharmacies who don’t stock abortion drugs

ADF-allied attorneys available to the media following hearing on Washington “right of conscience” case

ADF: Health care providers should not be forced to distribute abortion-inducing drugs in Washington State

Sanctity of Life

ADF: Health care providers should not be forced to distribute abortion-inducing drugs in Washington State

ADF attorneys file lawsuit and motion for preliminary injunction

Jul 27, 2007 Read More

ADF defends right of conscience for pharmacists

Sanctity of Life

ADF defends right of conscience for pharmacists

ADF attorney submits letter to defend pharmacists opposed to dispensing contraceptives, including “morning-after” abortion pill

Mar 14, 2006 Read More
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Documents
https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---dissent-from-denial.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---petitioners-39-reply-brief.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-43-members-of-congress.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-29-religious-liberty-scholars.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-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?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-religious-organizations.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-the-bruderhof-and-the-national-committee-for-amish-religious-freedom.pdf?sfvrsn=8https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-38-national-and-state-pharmacists-associations-including-the-american-pharmacists-association.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-paus.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-agudath-israel-of-america.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-united-states-conference-of-catholic-bishops-and-washington-state-catholic-conference.pdf?sfvrsn=8https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-international-society-for-krishna-consciousness-and-church-of-the-lukumi-babalu-aye-inc.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-4609-individual-health-care-professionals.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-center-for-constitutional-jurisprudence.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-5-pro-life-medical-associations.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---amicus-brief-cls-dfl.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---petition-for-writ-of-certiorari.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---9th-circuit-opinion.pdf?sfvrsn=6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---supplemental-brief-filed-with-9th-circuit.pdf?sfvrsn=12https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---9th-circuit-deferral-order.pdf?sfvrsn=12https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---plaintiffs-opening-brief-at-9th-circuit.pdf?sfvrsn=12https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---district-court-opinion.pdf?sfvrsn=12https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---findings-of-fact-and-conclusions-of-law.pdf?sfvrsn=12https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---permanent-injunction.pdf?sfvrsn=12https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---stay-order.pdf?sfvrsn=12https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/stormans-v.-wiesman/stormans-v-wiesman---stipulation.pdf?sfvrsn=12
Court Title Date
U.S. Supreme Court
Dissent from denial Jun 28 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Petitioners' reply brief Mar 21 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus Brief - 43 Members of Congress Feb 05 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus Brief - 29 Religious Liberty Scholars Feb 05 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus Brief - 13 States: Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia Feb 05 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus Brief - National Association of Evangelicals, et al. Feb 05 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus Brief - The Bruderhof and the National Committee for Amish Religious Freedom Feb 05 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus Brief - 38 National and State Pharmacists Associations Including the American Pharmacists Association Feb 05 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus Brief - Public Advocate of the United States, et al. Feb 05 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus Brief - Agudath Israel of America Feb 05 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus Brief - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Washington State Catholic Conference Feb 05 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus Brief - International Society for Krishna Consciousness and Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye Inc Feb 05 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus Brief - 4,609 Individual Healthcare Professionals Feb 05 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus Brief - Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence Feb 04 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus Brief - American Association of Prolife Obstetricians & Gynecologists, et al. Feb 04 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus Brief - Christian Legal Society, et al. Feb 04 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Petition for writ of certiorari Jan 04 2016
Appellate Court
9th Circuit opinion Jul 23 2015
Appellate Court
Supplemental brief filed with 9th Circuit Jul 28 2014
Appellate Court
9th Circuit deferral order Dec 02 2013
Appellate Court
Plaintiffs’ opening brief at 9th Circuit Nov 14 2012
Trial Court
District court opinion Feb 22 2012
Trial Court
Findings of fact and conclusions of law Feb 22 2012
Trial Court
Permanent injunction Feb 22 2012
Trial Court
Stay order Jul 12 2010
Trial Court
Stipulation Jul 07 2010

Commentary

Resources

Video news release: Stormans v. Wiesman

Audio: Kristen Waggoner explaining the case.

Biographies

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