Thursday, January 08, 2015

2nd Circuit Upholds New York's Compulsory Vaccination Requirements

In Phillips v. City of New York, (2d Cir., Jan 7, 2015), the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld New York's requirement that, subject to medical and religious exemptions, all children be vaccinated before attending public school. It relied largely on the 1905 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Jacobson v. Massachusetts to dispose of substantive due process objections.  The court also upheld, over free exercise objections, New York's regulation allowing officials to temporarily exclude students who are exempted from the vaccination requirement on religious grounds from school during an outbreak of a vaccine‐preventable disease. Quoting dicta in a 1944 Supreme Court decision, it held that the state could have imposed a vaccination requirement with no exemptions, so the more limited exclusion of those with an exemption during disease outbreaks is likewise constitutional. The court went on to reject equal protection and 9th Amendment arguments as well.  Education Week reports on the decision. New York Times reports that plaintiffs will seek Supreme Court review in the case.