A grassroots organization created by parents and teachers in San Joaquin County has filed a lawsuit against the governor, various school districts and state health officials, claiming their rights were violated during the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19.
Lodi law firm Bowman & Berretti filed the lawsuit Jan. 19 in California’s Eastern District of U.S. District Court on behalf of the SJC Liberty Coalition, a group of residents who, according to liberatesjc.com, “work for preserve the Constitution of our county”. freedoms. »
The 36-page lawsuit names Governor Gavin Newsom as a defendant, along with California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Thomas Aragon and Lodi Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Cathy Nichols-Washer as defendants. .
Stockton Unified School District Superintendent John Ramirez, Jr., Manteca Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Clark Burke, and Lincoln Unified School District Superintendent Kelly Dextraze were also named in the lawsuit.
In a press release emailed to the News-Sentinel on Monday, the coalition said its complaint “alleges that Governor Newsom lacks the authority under the Emergency Services Act to ordering children to be masked, quarantined or tested as a stipulation of in-person learning, that school districts have misrepresented their Covid (sic) policies as laws when they are only guidelines, that the state’s Covid-related mandate guidelines impermissibly exclude parents from determining measures to address Covid in their children’s education and that the mandates have been unconstitutionally and unfairly applied to teachers and parents”.
The coalition claims their First, Fourth and 14th Amendment rights are being violated, with respect to freedom of religion, unlawful search and seizure, and due process, respectively.
Additionally, the coalition claims Article I, Section I and Article III, Section III of the California Constitution; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; and the California Fair Housing and Employment Act; which all deal with discrimination and inalienable rights, have been violated.
The group also believes Newsom violated state emergency services law by suspending constitutionally guaranteed rights.
Leslie Gelow Jacobs, professor of constitutional law at the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law, said she did not see any of the claims made in the lawsuit succeeding under existing law.
“Yes, all of those rights (they claim) exist, but that doesn’t apply to vaccines or mandates,” Jacobs said.
The First Amendment says the government can’t discriminate against someone for their religious beliefs, and Jacob said rules requiring individuals to mask up or get vaccinated don’t discriminate.
She said that individuals’ privacy rights are not violated and that while the governor has the ability to declare an emergency, lawmakers must approve that declaration. Both houses of state government also have the power to lift it, she said.
Additionally, Jacobs said that while many school districts have granted religious exemptions to vaccines and masks, the employer and employee must come to agreements on accommodations so that religious beliefs are not infringed.
And while parental rights exist, Jacobs said, what is believed to be best for their child does not supersede school rules or guidelines they must follow under state health orders. .
“It’s the authority of the state, in this case the CDPH, to require vaccines and warrants,” Jacobs said. “He creates public health guidelines based on science. It is the expert agency, and it acts democratically in its capacity. It is he who decides whether the masks are effective or not.
Jacobs said similar lawsuits are more than likely to be filed against states, health departments and other agencies, and are unlikely to gain traction.
According to The Network for Public Health, 57 lawsuits were filed across the country between April 15 and October 21 last year.
Of these, only four resulted in the issuance of an injunction, while 17 resulted in the courts refusing to grant injunctions, leaving the vaccination warrants in place.
Twelve were dismissed either by plaintiffs or by the courts as non-justiciable, while 23 were still pending, according to the NPH.
Last October, Newsom announced that all students and staff at public and private schools in California must be vaccinated by July in order to be on campus.
Additionally, students and employees will not be permitted to be tested as an alternative to vaccines unless they are eligible for medical or personal beliefs.
The October Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioning expanded its guidance on religious exemptions to employer vaccination mandates under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
In its expansion, the EEOC said only sincere religious beliefs, practices, or observances are eligible for accommodation, and that those requesting an exemption must notify an employer that there is a conflict between a worker’s religious beliefs. employee and a workplace vaccination requirement for COVID-19.
The EEOC added that an employer can ask how an employee’s religious beliefs conflict with the mandate and is permitted to conduct a “limited factual inquiry.”
Employers are not prohibited from asking whether a belief is religious in nature or based on social, political or economic opinions, the EEOC said.
Further, the EEOC said that while “the sincerity of an employee’s stated religious beliefs … is generally undisputed,” there are factors that could “undermine an employee’s credibility.”
These factors include actions an employee has taken that are inconsistent with the held belief; whether the accommodation may have a “particularly desirable” non-religious benefit, the timing of the request; and any other reason to believe the accommodation is being sought for non-religious reasons.
According to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, very few religious denominations prohibit vaccinations.
Those with theological objections to vaccines are the Dutch Reformed congregations, the Faith Tabernacle, the Church of the Firstborn, the Assembly of Faith and Endtime Ministries, the sad VUMC.
While one of the basic teachings of the Christian Scientist Church is that illness can be prevented through focused prayer and that members often request exemptions when available, the VUMC said it does not There were no strict rules against vaccinations in the denomination.
Coalition lawyers did not return a phone call seeking comment.
To view the complaint, visit liberatesjc.om/legal-updates.