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Connecticut schools will still require students to be vaccinated after lawsuit challenges eliminated exemptions

We The Patriots USA, Inc. filed a lawsuit in 2021 arguing that the state violated their First Amendment rights through the removal of vaccination exemptions.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut law requires students to receive certain immunizations before enrolling in school, according to Attorney General William Tong. And a federal appeals judge ruled in favor of the state Friday after a lawsuit challenged that law.

Before 2021, students could apply for medical or religious exemptions, however, through Connecticut Public Act No. 21-6, religious exemptions were eliminated. 

One non-profit charity, We The Patriots USA, Inc., did not approve of the state's decision.

"Connecticut's decision to eliminate a religious exemption while permitting a medical exemption to the vaccine requirements undervalues the role of religious belief in American life and is irrational," said Norm Pattis, New Haven defense attorney for We The Patriots, in a statement to FOX61.

The organization filed a lawsuit arguing that Connecticut violated its First Amendment rights by removing the religious exemption., according to the Attorney General. 

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Friday’s ruling completely rejected that argument.

"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. We will continue to vigorously defend our state’s strong and necessary public health laws,” said Tong. 

A single plaintiff’s claim based on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is the only part of the case that remains active, but Attorney General is "confident" that the claim will be dismissed by the District Court.

Students who enrolled prior to 2021 with religious exemptions will still be allowed to receive vaccine exemptions, according to the law.

According to Pattis, We The Patriots USA is seeking a Supreme Court review.


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