August 26, 2019

CHD Will Appeal the Decision Denying the Preliminary Injunction Sought on Behalf of 26,000 Children and Their Families Affected by the Repeal of Vaccine Religious Exemptions.

On August 23rd, Judge Denise Hartman issued a decision denying the preliminary injunction/stay sought on behalf of 26,000 children and their families affected by the repeal of vaccine religious exemptions. The Judge composed a 34-page opinion which [in summary] made the following critical points:

  1. It was established that absent an injunction, there would be irreparable harm to the children and families involved. The judge stated that she had read and found quite compelling the nearly 400 affidavits submitted and acknowledged that her decision would cause families and students substantial hardship.
  2. The court did not feel the balance of equities tipped in our favor [a second factor to consider in deciding whether to grant a preliminary injunction] because, Her Honor reasoned, unvaccinated children pose a threat to others who cannot get vaccinations. The court viewed this threat as very significant in her decision. The judge concluded that we do not have a strong chance on ultimately succeeding in showing that the repeal violated any constitutional right.
  3. The court reasoned that there is no constitutional right to a religious exemption and that the legislature had neutral, not discriminatory, purposes which she found compelling, that is protecting public health. The court found the comments ambiguous that claimed to show animus toward religion and felt the legislature’s purpose was benign, not discriminatory toward those of religious faith.

With respect to Judge Hartman’s decision, Attorney Michael H. Sussman issued the following statement:

“We will appeal the denial to the Third Department as promptly as possible. Supreme Court properly recognized the irreparable harm the legislative repeal and Her Honor’s decision will cause for 26,000 children throughout the State. We will seek a hearing as promptly as possible as we do not agree with Supreme Court’s logic and reasoning concerning the possibility of success on the merits or the balancing of equities. We believe both favor preserving the status quo until final judicial resolution. We remain confident in our arguments.”

Verified ComplaintPlaintiffs’ BriefOrder To Show CauseAffirmation Final, Judge Hartman Decision

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