The Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Connecticut state law that banned religious exemptions against immunizations in educational institutions on Friday.
Plaintiffs argued against Public Act 21-6, which ended religious exemptions in Connecticut in 2021. This made Connecticut the fifth state to end religious exemptions, following Mississippi, California, New York, and Maine. West Virginia also does not allow religious exemptions, but it never had religious exemptions in the first place, according to the decision. (RELATED: New York Governor Denies Legitimacy Of Religious Exemptions To Vaccine)
“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,” Judge Denny Chin wrote in his majority opinion. “We decline to disturb this nearly unanimous consensus.”
The case was decided on a 2-1 vote with the lone dissenter, Joseph Bianco, dissenting on more complicated legal grounds and not on the merits of the state’s power to mandate vaccinations.
“The Supreme Court and this Court have made clear, and with good reason, that it is within a state’s police powers to establish such a requirement,” Bianco wrote in his partial dissent.
Recent debates over immunization requirements have questioned the foundation on the basis of personal choice, including in the hearings by the Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic in the House of Representatives. However, past legal rulings have struck down federal attempts at broadening vaccine mandates to places such as non-healthcare-related private companies.
Connecticut has faced several legal battles over vaccine mandates, including a case against a church that refused to comply with the mandates in its private schooling system. Today’s ruling would presumably apply Public Act 21-6 to all “schoolchildren, college and university students, and childcare participants” within the state of Connecticut, requiring immunizations in accordance with state law regardless of religious objection, via the decision.
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