Attorney Lindy Urso was in court last week fighting an appeal to dismiss his case, Keira Spillane, et al. v. Ned Lamont, et al., which aims to restore the religious exemption to vaccination requirements for students in the State of Connecticut.
The State previously tried to have Attorney Urso's case dismissed, but in September 2022, the State Court allowed the case to proceed. The Attorney General’s office immediately appealed Attorney Urso’s victory, effectively setting the case back 13 months.
However, another case challenging the religious exemption that was filed by Attorney Brian Festa of We The Patriots USA (WTP USA) has helped create an obstacle for Attorney Urso's case, even though the cases are materially different, according to Attorney Urso. Attorney Festa's team argued their case in federal court, while Attorney Urso is in state court, relying on something known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The federal court dismissed the WTP USA case. That dismissal was affirmed by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year, and the Court ruled that CT Public Act 21-6 "An Act Concerning Immunizations" does NOT violate the US Constitution.
The state Attorney General’s office has been using the federal dismissal of the WTP case to try to have Urso’s state case dismissed. According to Attorney Urso, he had no choice but to tear apart Attorney Festa's lawsuit, from the motives behind it to its merits, or lack thereof, in order to effectively fight his own case.
Unfortunately, Attorney Urso said he had anticipated this sort of problem, which is why he, along with New York Attorneys Jim Mermigis, Kevin Barry and Christina Martinez, indicated that they had approached Attorney Festa in December 2020, PRIOR to the legislative decision in Hartford that led to the loss of the religious exemption in the first place. Attorney Festa was allegedly asked by the attorneys to coordinate to maintain a stronger, unified front. The attorneys indicated that Festa refused, and insisted on filing his own case to defeat the religious exemption repeal bill.
Attorney Urso cautioned that Attorney Festa's "garbage lawsuit" could jeopardize a legitimate claim made under Connecticut's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
After failing in federal court, WTP USA turned around and filed another religious exemption case in state court. It is also planning an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Thank GOD we convinced the state court to hold that case in abeyance until ours is decided, lest he [Attorney Festa] poison our state claims too," said Attorney Urso.
"I know Festa got into this movement for good reasons, but somewhere along the way his ego took over. He is now torching our serious efforts to salvage the Religious Exemption in Connecticut, even after taking his family and moving out west."
"The CT Attorney General is trying to tie WTP's federal dismissed case like a millstone around the neck of the SPILLANE case so it can be dismissed like WTP's. Look at the documents submitted to the Supreme Court by the CT Attorney General to demonstrate this point (here and here). In two submissions to the Supreme Court, the AG references WTP 31 times!" said Attorney Barry.
It's clear that the Connecticut Attorney General's office is trying to use the WTP USA dismissals to have Keira Spillane, et al. v. Ned Lamont, et al. dismissed.
That's why Attorneys Urso, Mermigis and Barry indicated that they are doing what is necessary to prevent that from happening. If you would like to help these attorneys restore Religious Liberty in Connecticut, you can support the case via Donorbox.
UPDATE: The Connecticut Centinal received a response from WTP which in part read, Festa never argued the WTP USA case in court, and he was never approached to join the legal team of Urso, Barry, and Mermigis. Instead, he was only approached once, in December of 2020, to aid in their fundraising efforts.