Vaccination Laws Upheld Despite Religious Objections

In the United States, the First Amendment of the Constitution protects our right to practice the religion of our choice.  The State and City of New York have passed laws that offer increased protection from interference with religious practice and discrimination based on religion.  Just like the right to move your fist ends at the tip of another person’s nose, the government will limit the right to a religious practice that they believe endangers the community as a whole.  Justice Denise Hartman upheld the law abolishing religious exemptions to vaccinations, referring to a US Supreme Court decision from 1944, “The right to practice religion does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable diseases.”

What Parents Should Know

Schools must ensure that all students are vaccinated within 14 days of starting school, in keeping with the laws passed last year as a result of the worst measles outbreak of the century.  Justice Hartman expressed her empathy for the suffering of families that must now choose between their religious beliefs and their child’s education, as they may now have to either homeschool their kids or move to another State.  The “potential harm” from allowing unvaccinated children in school, she believes, outweighs the religious objections of parents that refuse to vaccinate. There are still medical exemptions available for individuals with weakened immune systems or other disorders that would make vaccination a danger to their health.

What Schools Should Know

Schools are facing serious fines and will be subjected to surprise inspections this Fall to ensure full compliance with the law.  Private schools that catered primarily to families that do not vaccinate will likely shut down, with authorities on alert for schools now calling themselves “homeschool co-ops,” but operating in the same manner as before the laws were passed.  

2019-11-19T14:28:07+00:00By |0 Comments

About the Author:

Alyce Wittenstein is a world class attorney, blogger and filmmaker. She began working at the firm in 1985 as a managing paralegal, learning all the practices and procedures of the firm from Mr. Wittenstein and the staff. From 1995-1998, she attended CUNY Law School where she made a mark as a teaching assistant for Civil Rights leader Haywood Burns. She founded a Human Rights Delegation to Haiti and studied Constitutional Law with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Working at the Equal Opportunity Employment Commision (EEOC), she learned a great deal about Employment Discrimination matters. She brought her knowledge of the Personal Injury practice and her passion for Civil Rights to the firm when she was admitted to the Bar in 1999. In 2000, she became a partner and the firm name was changed to Wittenstein & Wittenstein, Esqs. PC.

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