UNITED STATES NEWS

Federal appeals court upholds Connecticut law that eliminated religious vaccination exemption

Aug 4, 2023, 1:53 PM

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a 2021 Connecticut law that eliminated the state’s longstanding religious exemption from childhood immunization requirements for schools, colleges and day care facilities.

The decision comes about a year and a half after a lower court judge dismissed the lawsuit challenging the contentious law, which drew protests at the state Capitol.

“This decision is a full and resounding affirmation of the constitutionality and legality of Connecticut’s vaccine requirements. Vaccines save lives — this is a fact beyond dispute,” Democratic Attorney General William Tong said in a statement. “The legislature acted responsibly and well within its authority to protect the health of Connecticut families and stop the spread of preventable disease.”

The plaintiffs, We the Patriots USA Inc. and others, had argued that Connecticut violated religious freedom protections by removing the exemption. The 2021 law, they said, demonstrates a hostility to religious believers and jeopardizes their rights to medical freedom and child rearing.

“We fully intend to seek review of this decision in the United States Supreme Court, to obtain equal justice for all children — not only in Connecticut, but in every state in the nation,” Brian Festa, co-founder and vice president of We the Patriots USA Inc., said in a statement.

He said his group, which focuses on religious and medical freedom, parental rights and other matters, disagrees with the court’s conclusion that removing the exemption does not violate religious freedom under the First Amendment or the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

In its decision, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit noted that “only one court — state or federal, trial or appellate — has ever found plausible a claim of a constitutional defect in a state’s school vaccination mandate on account of the absence or repeal of a religious exemption.”

“We decline to disturb this nearly unanimous consensus,” it concluded.

Connecticut law currently requires students to receive certain immunizations before enrolling in school, yet allows some medical exemptions. Students could seek religious exemptions as well prior to 2021, but lawmakers decided to end that after being concerned by an uptick in exemption requests coupled with a decline in vaccination rates in some schools.

The Connecticut General Assembly ultimately passed legislation that eliminated the exemption but grandfathered students in K-12 that had already received one.

Festa called the court’s decision to return part of the lawsuit to the lower court for further consideration “a victory” for special needs children in the state. One of the plaintiffs argued that Connecticut’s law denies her son a free and appropriate education under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act by not allowing him a religious exemption.

While Festa said the plaintiffs, which also include three parents and the CT Freedom Alliance LLC, are hopeful the district court will determine special needs children cannot be excluded by opposing vaccinations based on religious belief.

Tong’s office said it’s confident that claim will be dismissed by the lower court.

United States News

FILE - A logging truck drives on the Interstate 5 bridge that spans the Columbia River and connects...

Associated Press

Aging bridges in 16 states will be improved or replaced with the help of $5B in federal funding

Dozens of aging bridges in 16 states will be replaced or improved with the help of $5 billion in federal grants announced Wednesday by President Joe Biden’s administration, the latest beneficiaries of a massive infrastructure law. The projects range from coast to coast, with the largest providing an additional $1.4 billion to help replace two […]

31 minutes ago

President Joe Biden speaks at a 2024 Prosperity Summit Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in North Las Vegas, ...

Associated Press

Biden aims to cut through voter disenchantment as he courts Latino voters at Las Vegas conference

LAS VEGAS (AP) — President Joe Biden is trying to shore up support among disenchanted voters key to his reelection chances as he meets Wednesday with members of a Latino civil rights organization in the battleground state of Nevada. Biden is set to deliver an address to the UnidosUS annual conference in Las Vegas, where […]

35 minutes ago

FILE - The Mirage Hotel and Casino is seen in Las Vegas, on May 3, 2018. Gambling ends Wednesday, J...

Associated Press

After reshaping Las Vegas, The Mirage to be reinvented as part of a massive Hard Rock makeover

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Mirage is about to vanish from the Las Vegas Strip. Gambling ends and the doors close Wednesday at the iconic tropical island-themed hotel-casino that opened in 1989 with a fire-spewing volcano outside, and Siegfried & Roy’s lions and dolphins inside. Frenzied final days have seen standing-room crowds wagering to win […]

4 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives during the second day of th...

Associated Press

The stepped-up security around Trump is apparent, with agents walling him off from RNC crowds

MILWAUKEE (AP) — On the floor of the Republican National Convention Tuesday evening, vice presidential candidate JD Vance greeted and shook hands with excited delegates as he walked toward his seat. It was a marked contrast from former President Donald Trump, who entered the hall a few minutes later and was separated from supporters by […]

5 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives during the second day of th...

Associated Press

Donald Trump celebrated by former rivals at Republican National Convention

Former president Donald Trump was celebrated at the Republican National Convention by former rivals, including Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis.

5 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives during the second day of th...

Sponsored Content by

Former president Donald Trump was celebrated at the Republican National Convention by former rivals, including Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis.

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Federal appeals court upholds Connecticut law that eliminated religious vaccination exemption