Jim Crow laws have returned from what should have been the fully, totally, unequivocally dead in the form of vaccination status discrimination. From New York State:
October 9, 2019
Attorney Statement on Sullivan-Knapp v. Cuomo (Steuben County)
We are extremely disappointed by the fainthearted and incohesive decision filed today by Judge Wiggins, but we are encouraged by most of the content of the Judge’s decision.
Judge Wiggins acknowledged that the New York legislature “callously disregarded” the religious beliefs of 19.54 million New Yorkers when removing the religious exemption to vaccination without holding “any committee hearings or substantial debate”. He wrote that the legislature’s actions led to the “unconscionable consequence” of 26,000 healthy children being denied access to New York schools. He ruled that “the danger to the public was somewhat overstated” in Judge Hartman’s Albany decision. He stated, “children not vaccinated because of religious exemptions make up less than 1% of the population, which hardly seems like a public health crisis”. Meanwhile, the rationale which the legislature used to repeal the religious exemption was itself overstated and nonexistent public health crisis, to which the expert affidavits attest.
Yet, despite including the above in his decision, Judge Wiggins ultimately denied the preliminary injunction, which would have eliminated the “unconscionable consequences" of the repeal bill while this case progresses to trial. He writes near the end of his decision that “precedent appears to give the legislature the authority to bar the doors (to school) to the unvaccinated". It seems he ruled this way because he believed he had no other choice to “precedent”, but this is not entirely accurate.
Sullivan-Knapp v. Cuomo is a novel case of first impression. This gives Judge Wiggins the opportunity to create new precedent in his decision. In the history of the United States, there has never been a case based solely on a state constitution involving the removal of a religious exemptions to vaccination.
We will announce next steps very soon, which may include filing a motion to re-argue in front of Judge Wiggins in Steuben County. We look forward to ending the unconscionable consequences which the legislature put in motion on June 13 as soon as the judicial process allows. Healthy children belong in school.
Attorneys James Mermigis, Kevin Barry and Elizabeth Brehm
Mermigis Law Group
James Mermigis and Kevin Barry will be speaking on Sunday, October 20 at 10:30am at the Autism Community Walk at Belmont Lake State Park in Babylon, NY (Exit 38 on the Southern State Parkway). First Freedoms will also have a booth.