CVS Pharmacy


CVS v. Doe

No. 20-1374

United States Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC) filed an amicus brief in support of CVS Pharmacy, arguing that the Rehabilitation Act of 1972, and by extension the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”), does not allow Americans to sue for monetary damages simply because a well-intentioned policy has a disproportionate negative impact on the disabled.

In this case, Respondents argue that CVS Pharmacy’s specialty-drug program disproportionately impacts those who seek prescription medications related to HIV by requiring them to get their specialty prescriptions filled by mail order or drop shipment to a CVS pharmacy, rather than at the pharmacy of their choice. 

In its brief, IWLC argues that it is for Congress—and Congress alone—to determine whether a statute creates a particular cause of action. Congress did not authorize disparate impact claims under the Rehabilitation Act and the ACA, and IWLC urges the Court to reverse the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that Respondents’ disparate impact claims may move forward.

In particular, IWLC argues that by balancing perceived congressional objectives, rather than closely analyzing the text of the statute, the Ninth Circuit utilized an outdated and discredited mode of statutory interpretation that undermines the rule of law. While the text of § 504 should suffice to resolve this case, IWLC points out several negative policy consequences of allowing this case to proceed in order to illuminate precisely why courts should not engage in “balancing” Congress’s many, and often illusive, policy objectives. 

Jennifer C. Braceras, director of Independent Women’s Law Center, issued the following statement: “If the Ninth Circuit’s ruling is allowed to stand, almost every medical provider, college, university, K-12 school, and business that received federal assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic could face liability for well-meaning programs that have a disproportionate impact on those with disabilities.”

Erin Hawley, senior legal fellow at Independent Women’s Law Center, said, “The text of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 does not authorize disparate impact litigation. That should be the end of the matter. Further, disparate impact litigation under §504 would result in increased costs for healthcare consumers and hamstring the ability of state and local officials to set education policy. These negative consequences are precisely the reason why the representatives of the people, not unelected judges, should bear responsibility for determining whether to allow such lawsuits to proceed.” 

Read the brief HERE.


Independent Women’s Forum is dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities.

Independent Women’s Law Center advocates for equal opportunity, individual liberty, and respect for the American constitutional order.