Federal Immunization Cases

Immunization Mandates (Federal Cases)

Case Name/ NumberPartiesYearJurisdictionHoldingMain Arguments
Phillips v. City of New YorkNicole Phillips and Fabian Mendoza, Plaintiffs v. Eric Schneiderman (A.G.), Defendant2015United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuitvaccination statute does not violate substantive due process; vaccination statute does not violate Free Exercise Clause; and parents failed to state an equal protection claim against state's statutory vaccination requirement and regulation allowing unvaccinated children to be excluded from public schoolsPlaintiffs argued that vaccination requirement which is subject to medical and religious exemptions violated their due process rights, Free Exercise of the 1st Amendment and Equal Protection of the 14th Amendment and that state regulation excluding non-vaccinated students from schools is unconstitutional. Court and D argued that it is a constitutionally permissible exercise of the State's police power and do not infringe of freedom of religion, and testimony here showed her views on vaccines were primarily health-related and did not constitute her genuine Catholic belief.
Workman v. Mingo County Board of Education, 419 Fed. Appx. 348/ No. 09-2352
Jennifer Workman, Mingo County Board of Education, Dr. Steven L. Paine & Dwight Dials (state superintended of schools), West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Mingo County Schools, State of West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, plaintiffs; Martha Yeager Walker (Secretary of West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources), Dr. Catherine C. Slemp (State Health Director), Children's Healthcare is a legal duty, American Academy of pediatrics, Center for Rural Health Development, West Virginia Association of Local Health Departments, Immunization Action Coalition2010United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth CircuitAffirm summary judgment for defendants.West Virginia statute requiring vaccinations as a condition of admission to school does not unconstitutionally infringe Workman's right to free exercise. Plaintiff's claims are not meritorious.
Caviezel v. Great Neck Public Schools, 701 F.Supp.2d 414>Martina and Andreas Caviezel, Plaintiff v. Great Neck Public Schools, Defendant2010United States District Court, Eastern District of New Yorkno constitutional right to religious exemption from vaccination existed.Parents argue that their religious belief prohibits the sin of vaccination, because it is a "lack of faith in God and his creations". Lawyer wrote a letter on their behalf stating their religious beliefs which was turned down. Parents argue this is a violation of their "right to counsel" if the exemption form requires them to write their beliefs in their own words. Court argues that Constitution does not guarantee religious objectors a right to exemption from mandatory vaccines. No religious exemption exists at all.
Workman v. Mingo County Schools, 667 F.Supp.2d 679>Workman, mother of child, Plaintiff v. Mingo County Schools, Defendants2009United States District Court, Southern District of West Virginia1) County board of education entitled to 11th amendment; 2) program did not violate freedom of religion; 3) program did not violate equal protection; 4) program did not violate procedural due processP states that her Christian Bapticostal religious beliefs require that she honor God by protecting her child from harm and illness, and that immunizing in this instance would violate those sincerely held beliefs because her child has autism/delays and had received a medical exemption from the doctor and denial of medical exemption was "arbitrary and capricious" and violates her due process and equal protection rights. WVA does not had religious exemption as part of its law. Parents may not claim exemption for child on religious grounds.
McCarthy v. Boozman, 212 F.Supp.2d 945Dan McCarthy, parent v. Faye Boozman, Director for Arkansas Dept. of Health, Defendant2002United States District Court, Western District of Arkansas (1) pursuant to its police powers, state could adopt program of compulsory immunization for school-age children, without providing religious exemption from program; (2) religious exemption provision in Arkansas immunization statute, which was limited only to members or adherents of church or religious denomination recognized by the State, violated establishment and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment; (3) religious exemption provision violated the Fourteenth Amendment; but (4) unconstitutional religious exemption provision was severable from immunization statute.State denied religious exemption on grounds it is not an officially recognized religion by the State. The parent argues this is a 1st amendment violation and the court agreed. The court recognized that the Supreme Court has held that a law which on its face grants a denominational preference may only be justified by a compelling state interest. As the state could not point to any compelling interest behind discriminating against individuals who did not subscribe to an officially recognized religion, the court struck down the religious exemption scheme.
Boone v. Boozman, 217 F.Supp.2d 938Cynthia Boone, Plaintiff v. Faye Boozman, Director Arkansas Dept. of Health2002United States District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas(1) statute's religious exemption provision, which only recognized objections based on tenets or practices of “recognized church or religious denomination,” violated mother's Free Exercise and Establishment Clause rights, but (2) severed remainder of statute, requiring immunization without religious exemption, was constitutional.State denied religious exemption on grounds it is not an officially recognized religion by the State. The parent argues this is a 1st amendment violation and the court agreed. The court recognized that the Supreme Court has held that a law which on its face grants a denominational preference may only be justified by a compelling state interest. As the state could not point to any compelling interest behind discriminating against individuals who did not subscribe to an officially recognized religion, the court struck down the religious exemption scheme.
Lewis v. Sobol, 710 F.Supp. 506Mariela LEWIS and Alan Fishkin, guardians of Abigail, Plaintiffs v. Thomal Sobol, NY State Commissioner of Education and David Axelrod, NY State Commissioner of Health, Defendant1989United States District Court, Southern District of New Yorkparents' beliefs were religious and sincerely held for purposes of obtaining religious exemption from the immunization requirement for their daughter.Lewis and Fishkin have a distinctive lifestyle, based on their belief in a creator, that has exposed them to scorn and pressure from nonbelieving family and school officials. Here there is no evidence that Lewis and Fishkin's beliefs are predominantly based on scientific or biological considerations. Lewis and Fishkin do not oppose medical intervention per se; rather, they believe in medicine only when physical symptoms exist, that manifest an “imbalanced spirit.” While they may share the Masons' view that “health comes from within,”16 their developed views of the creator and individual spiritual perfection are fairly characterized as religious.
Mason v. General Brown Central School District, 851 F.2d 47Edgar and Karen Mason, parents of infant, Plaintiffs v. General Brown Central School District, Defendants1988United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit(1) parents' sincerely held belief, as members of chartered branch of Universal Life Church, that immunization was contrary to “genetic blueprint,” was not religious belief so as to exempt their son from immunization requirement.P argue their commitment to living in a “natural order” and interference with natural physical and neurological process result in diminished physical/mental capacity and that this rises to "religious belief" and this is advocated by their Universal Life Church (ULC) which has no membership requirements, worship, or doctrine. Court argues this rises to "scientific or philosophic belief" and not religious. Lifestyle choices do not rise to level of religion.
Sherr v. Northport-East Northport Union Free School District, 72 F.Supp. 81Sherr, parents, Plaintiff v. Northport-East School District, Defendants1987United States District Court, Eastern District of New York1) limitation of religious exemption to New York mandatory inoculation program of school children to “bona fide members of a recognized religious organization” violated First Amendment; (2) parents' opposition to mandatory inoculation based on their pantheistic views was “religious” in nature so as to invoke protections of First Amendment; but (3) only parents whose opposition was based on sincerely held religious beliefs were entitled to exemption.Not being a member of a “recognized religious organization” is burdened by New York's requirement that his children be vaccinated. Courts have held that society's compelling interest in preventing disease must override any personal opposition to immunization but there is no compelling societal interest that might justify the burden placed upon the free religious exercise of certain individuals while other persons remain free to avoid subjecting their children to a religiously objectionable medical technique merely because they may belong to a particular religious organization to which the state has given a stamp of approval.
Zucht v. King et. al., 43 S.Ct. 24Rosalyn Zucht, Plaintiff v. WA King, Defendant1922Supreme Court of the United Statesordinances do not violate due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and do not deny plaintiff equal protection of the laws.upheld Jacobson that it is within police power of the state to maintain compulsory vaccination laws.

Comments are closed.