STATEMENT OF INTEREST
The Minnesota Catholic Conference (“MCC”) is the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota, representing the state’s eight Catholic bishops and the
dioceses that they lead.
The conference of bishops and its staff support legislation and public policy that protects human life from conception until natural death; that respects the authentic dignity of all persons, especially the poor and vulnerable; and promotes the common good. Additionally, MCC proposes to Catholics and to the wider public an ethical framework (“Catholic social teaching”) that should be applied to public policy choices. MCC is particularly concerned about public policy matters related to the legal protections provided to pre-born children, in addition to upholding longstanding rights of conscience and the free exercise of religion provided in state and federal law.
SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT
This is a relatively straightforward case, and the judgment below should be affirmed. There is no factual dispute: Appellant admits that Respondent Badeaux has consistently
stated that the reason for his declining to prescribe emergency contraception is based on his own beliefs and not on any discriminatory intent toward Appellant because of her protected-class status. See Appellant’s Br. 6-8. In fact, Pharmacist George Badeaux had strong objections to prescribing ella for Plaintiff-Appellant Andrea Anderson—and any other customer requesting it—because of his belief that it was an abortifacient drug. The jury correctly found under the applicable McDonnell-Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973) standard—which required Appellant to prove to the jury that Appellee Badeaux’s religious objections were not sincere and merely pretexts for unlawful behavior—that Badeaux did not intend to discriminate on the basis of sex and, therefore, should not be punished under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. Minn. Stat. § 363A et. al. (“MHRA”). Appellant has a large burden to disturb this verdict because the jury’s factfinding is given such deference that a “jury verdict will be overturned only if no reasonable mind could find as the jury did,” while the evidence is “viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict.” Fallin v. Maplewood-N. St. Paul Dist. No. 622, 362 N.W.2d 318, 322-23 (Minn. 1985).
Appellant and her supporting amici, however, want Minnesota courts to re-write anti-discrimination law and rule as a matter of law that whenever a pharmacist refuses to fill a prescription related to pregnancy or reproduction, it is automatically an act of sex discrimination and punishable. The proposed rule and its application are stunningly broad and incoherent. The district court correctly denied Appellant’s post-trial motions because Appellant’s proposed jury instructions and rule of per se discrimination would violate Minnesota’s Constitutional protection for rights of conscience and religious liberty. MINN. CONST. art. I, § 16. The law was correctly provided to the jury for its fact-finding role.
Badeaux refused to fill Appellant’s prescription because he firmly believes that doing so would compel him to cooperate in ending a human life. In doing so, he shares the views of many pharmacists and medical professionals who believe that participating in abortions—even at the earliest stages of human life—directly contradicts their spiritual beliefs and wrongly destroys the life of another human being. Badeaux’s ability to work in accordance with his well-founded beliefs is protected by state and federal law, and for good reason. For people to enter vital professions such as healthcare, society cannot force them to contradict their mostly deeply revered truths when they walk through the clinic or pharmacy door.
Badeaux is asking this Court to defend the Constitution, liberty, and the right to refrain from engaging in conduct that violates one’s well-formed conscience. Conversely, Appellant and her supporting amici ask this Court to broadly impose patient preferences in suppression of those who dissent. As discussed below, such a sweeping rule would be unconstitutional and could have harmful effects on healthcare access generally. The court should not disrupt the jury’s verdict and the district court’s judgment should be affirmed.2
View the entire amicus brief by downloading this PDF version.