WGXC-90.7 FM

Appellate court upholds state's repeal of religious exemptions for vaccinations

Mar 19, 2021 5:30 am

Robert Gavin is reporting for the Times Union the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court's Third Department Thu., March 18, unanimously upheld the state’s 2019 elimination of the religious exemption for vaccinations. Appellate Justice Stanley Pritzker authored the ruling. The state’s public health law requires children between the ages of two months and 18 years to be immunized for certain diseases, including measles. The law previously included two exceptions: one for medical reasons, the other on religious grounds.  Following a measles outbreak in 2018, which impacted areas in Brooklyn and Rockland County, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed a bill into law repealing the religious exemption. Fifty-five families then sued the state, alleging the repeal was unconstitutional and motivated by active hostility to religion. The parents argued that the state Legislature failed to act in the height of the outbreak, that no public hearings were held and that the animosity toward religion was reflected in comments by lawmakers, one of whom allegedly called the parents "anti-vaxxers." The Third Department rejected the arguments by the parents' Goshen-based attorney, Michael H. Sussman. Pritzker said the exemption for children for medical reasons was clearly distinct. He wrote the Legislature was permitted to exercise broad discretion required for the protection of public health. Read the full story in the Times Union.