Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed December 18, 2008

No. 104692         Morr-Fitz, Inc. v. Blagojevich

        Appellate citation: 371 Ill. App. 3d 1175.

         JUSTICE THOMAS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
         Chief Justice Fitzgerald and Justices Kilbride, Garman, and Karmeier concurred in the judgment and opinion.
         Justice Freeman dissented, with opinion, joined by Justice Burke.

        Plaintiffs are two licensed pharmacists and three corporations that own and operate pharmacies. The business locations involved are in Cook County, in Morrison and Prophetstown in Whiteside County, and in Sycamore and Genoa in De Kalb County. In 2005, on the basis of their personal moral and religious beliefs, the pharmacists brought this preenforcement challenge to Illinois’ administrative rule requiring pharmacies to fill prescriptions for emergency contraceptives, known as the “morning after pill” or “Plan B.” It was claimed that this rule is null and void on its face as in violation of the first amendment and statutory law.

        In the circuit court of Sangamon County, a suit was filed against the Governor and other governmental officials, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. In response, the defendants asserted a lack of ripeness and standing and that the plaintiffs had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies as a prerequisite to seeking judicial relief. The circuit court dismissed the complaint. The appellate court affirmed the dismissal, finding that the claim was not ripe for review.

        In this decision, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the action was ripe for judicial review and should not have been dismissed. It held that legal issues were presented that did not require agency expertise and that the stores had shown disruption of their business despite the absence of actual enforcement. The requirement that administrative remedies must be exhausted before filing suit in circuit court was not applicable here. The cause was remanded.