Court Clears Connecticut Law Eliminating Religious Exemptions

A Connecticut law eliminating religious exemptions for childhood vaccines has been deemed constitutional by a federal appeals court.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently issued a ruling, dismissing the claim that refusing to accept religious exemptions for vaccinations was unconstitutional.

“[I]t is not enough for a law to simply affect religious practice; the law or the process of its enactment must demonstrate ‘hostility’ to religion,” the court wrote, as reported by The Daily Wire.

“[E]xempting a student from the vaccination requirement because of a medical condition and exempting a student who declines to be vaccinated for religious reasons are not comparable in relation to the State’s interest,” the court added.

The court argued that the accommodations for religious objectors eliminated arguments that the law was anti-religion, citing a section that allows children in grades K-12 to keep their religious exemptions.

The court’s ruling explained that the Connecticut legislature introduced the bill in 2021 as a response to a small increase in child religious exemptions during the past seven years.

The court pointed out that the proposed exemption elimination was opposed by a majority of the public, with 95% of individuals opposing the proposal.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong recently released a press release noting that overriding religious freedom was necessary to prevent disease.

“Vaccines save lives — this is a fact beyond dispute. The legislature acted responsibly and well within its authority to protect the health of Connecticut families and stop the spread of preventable disease,” Tong said. “We will continue to vigorously defend our state’s strong and necessary public health laws.”

The Connecticut legislature banned religious exemptions for childhood vaccinations in 2021 via the Connecticut Public Act No. 21-6, which prohibits families from claiming religious exemptions from immunization requirements for K-12 schools.

The law was opposed by two prominent organizations: “We the Patriots USA,” and “CT Freedom Alliance.”

“[W]e respectfully disagree with the Court’s conclusion that the removal of the religious exemption in Connecticut does not infringe upon the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment, or the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law, among other things,” We the Patriots USA said.

“We fully intend to seek review of this decision in the United States Supreme Court, to obtain equal justice for all children — not only in Connecticut, but in every state in the nation,” the group added.

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