Attorney General Tong Statement on Appellate Court Decision Upholding Elimination of Religious Exemption to School Vaccine Requirements(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong released the following statement about a decision today from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upholding Connecticut Public Act No. 21-6, which eliminated the religious exemption to school vaccine requirements.
“This decision is a full and resounding affirmation of the constitutionality and legality of Connecticut’s vaccine requirements. 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 Attorney General Tong.
Plaintiffs -- We the Patriots USA, Inc -- argued that Connecticut violated their First Amendment rights by removing the religious exemption from school vaccination requirements. Today’s decision entirely rejects that argument.
After today’s decision, the only part of the case that remains active is a single plaintiff’s claim based on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Office of the Attorney General is confident that the IDEA claim will be dismissed by the District Court on remand.
Connecticut law requires students receive certain immunizations before enrolling in school. Prior to 2021, students could apply for medical or religious exemptions to that requirement. P.A. 21-6 eliminated the religious exemption, while grandfathering students in kindergarten through grade twelve who had already received such exemptions.
Assistant Attorneys General Darren Cunningham and Tim Holzman assisted the Attorney General in this matter.