Federal judge plans to rule Miss. Compulsory Vaccination Law unconstitutional
BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - A federal judge in South Mississippi plans to rule the state’s compulsory school vaccination law unconstitutional, according to a court filing.
Mississippi Code § 41-23-37 (the “Compulsory Vaccination Law”) requires children be vaccinated against diseases specified by the State Health Officer in order to attend school, unless they have a medical exemption.
In a court entry following a hearing Monday, District Judge Halil S. Ozerden notes “the Court will grant [the] Plaintiffs’ Motion” and rule this law unconstitutional.
Judge Ozerden’s note, which will be further detailed in a written order, says that starting July 15, 2023, the State Health Officer and school principals, as well as officers, agents, servants, employees or anyone working with them will not be allowed to enforce Mississippi’s Compulsory Vaccination Law unless they give the option for a religious exemption.
A lawsuit filed in September 2022 alleges that “both on its face and as applied, the Compulsory Vaccination Law violates [the plaintiffs’] First Amendment rights and their right to be free from unlawful statutes.”
Plaintiffs in the case are seven Mississippians with children in the school system, several of whom live on the Coast in Moss Point, Vancleave and Biloxi. The lawsuit was filed against the State Health Officer Daniel P. Edney, Attorney General Lynn Fitch, Ocean Springs City Prosecutor Douglas L. Tynes and several principals of Mississippi schools.
Arguments during the trial detailed these parents’ struggles when deciding whether or not to vaccinate their children. Court documents show many of the parents felt as if vaccinating their children would “violate God’s will” or their Christian beliefs. One said vaccination was a “fear-based approach to health” that didn’t place trust in God but in vaccines.
Court documents allege one couple filing suit moved across state lines to Alabama so their unvaccinated children could attend school. One plaintiff, a pastor and head administrator of Grace Baptist Academy in Ocean Springs, was unable to enroll his daughter at his own school because she was unvaccinated.
Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN Decide), a Texas nonprofit that “advocate[s] for peoples right to informed consent while investigating the safety of medical procedures and vaccines” is the main group behind the lawsuit. Three attorneys from Texas, Kentucky and New York, supported by ICAN, represented the plaintiffs in this case.
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