The Catholic University of America


Victory after a Seven-Year Court Battle


A religious freedom case from Illinois that drew the involvement of Catholic University law school Professor Mark Rienzi in 2005 was settled on Sept. 21when an Illinois appellate court agreed that the state cannot force pharmacies and pharmacists to sell abortion-inducing drugs in violation of their religion.
Rienzi (photo above) who had represented the pharmacists as senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, hailed the decision as “a great victory for religious freedom.”
The battle was joined seven years ago after former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich mandated that that all pharmacies and pharmacists in the state sell Plan B (the “morning after pill”). Those who objected on religious and moral grounds, he said, should find another profession.
In 2011, the Illinois trial court entered an injunction against the rule, finding no evidence that a religious objection had ever prevented anyone from getting the drugs. The court further found that the law was not neutral because it was designed to target religious objectors, and because it allowed pharmacies to refuse to sell drugs for a host of “common sense business reasons” but not for religious reasons.
In affirming the injunction, the court of appeals noted that Illinois law “prohibits discrimination in licensing” against a person or business who cannot provide healthcare services because of a religious objection. Accordingly, the court prohibited the state from enforcing the mandate against the plaintiffs.