Saturday, October 23, 2021

Vaccine Ruling: Appeals Court Blocks New York City’s Mandatory Vaccine Law

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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday temporarily blocked New York City’s new vaccine mandate for teachers, per a “request for certiorari” from a small group of parents and educators.

In April, Mayor Bill de Blasio called for mandatory mandatory vaccines for students in pre-K, kindergarten and seventh grade– a move critics charged is a preventative measure against a resurgence of diseases the city hasn’t seen since the 1990s. In response, a coalition of pro-vaccine groups opposed the new laws at every turn. One notable victor was David Prentice, a lower-middle school teacher who sued to challenge the law on the grounds that it’s a violation of the First Amendment for the city to force him to participate in an assembly he didn’t believe in.

“Any vaccinations are not necessary unless a parent or guardian decides to immunize a child,” Prentice said in his complaint. “And even then, the right to make that decision does not extend to school teachers, many of whom know the dangers of vaccinating but refuse to do so because of their own beliefs.”

According to Robert Bierman, a partner at Day Pitney and counsel to the lawsuit’s lead plaintiffs, the decision to delay the law’s implementation for an undetermined amount of time is not a surprise.

Related Story: Pence Calls for End to Mandatory Vaccines

“I think that at this point, the Supreme Court is far more interested in the free speech rights than they are in the free immunization rights of anyone involved in this,” Bierman said. “But time will tell how that plays out.”

Bierman, who participated in a Tuesday evening legal briefing on the case, said while he understands it’s a cautious movement, he thinks things are getting positive traction.

“This has drawn attention. And I think a lot of people are following it and are saying it’s really important and something we need to focus on,” he said. “I can’t say that I’m surprised by this court’s decision, because when they made the original ruling and then made the special stay, this court pretty much seemed split 3-2.”

The case is Gerstle v. de Blasio, and Prentice v. New York City.’s Aaron Bruns contributed to this report.

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