Monday, June 30, 2014
Last year, three families filed suit against the New York City School system for its exclusion of their children because they had not received their vaccinations. They alleged that the forced vaccination program violates their religious beliefs.
In their First Amendment cause of action, Plaintiffs claim their rights to free exercise of religion were violated when their children were excluded from school due to their religious beliefs running counter to vaccination practice. Plaintiffs argue that their children were “arbitrarily, capriciously, unreasonably and unconstitutionally denied” the right to free exercise of religion based on the state vaccination practice, in general, and, in particular, because the religious exemption standards “force[ ] parents to detail their religious beliefs and submit to a ‘test,’ and the determinations of whether or not to grant the religious exemptions falls[ sic ] to the subjective judgment of one school official who is unqualified to make such a determination.”
The district court, in dismissed the case, wrote "not only has the Supreme Court strongly suggested that religious objectors are not constitutionally exempt from vaccinations, courts in this Eastern District have resolutely found there is no such constitutional exemption." Plaintiffs "opine that [the Supreme Court decision] is bad law and ask this Court to overturn the Supreme Court decision, [but] “this the Court cannot do.”" The court dismissed their equal protection and substantive due process claims just as quickly. Plaintiffs plan to appeal the case. The school system welcomed the reaffirmation of its policy, as public health officials indicate that "some diseases are experiencing a resurgence in areas with low vaccination rates."
More on the backstory here.