• The Religious Exemption Fight In Connecticut Is Not Over - There Is Another Case Still Pending In State Court

    Attorneys Lindy Ursy, Kevin Barry, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Jim Mermigis

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    The medical freedom community in Connecticut was crushed yesterday after learning that the Supreme Court declined to hear We The Patriots USA's challenge to the Connecticut law that removed religious exemptions to school vaccination requirements.

    Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said, “this is the end of the road to a challenge to Connecticut’s lifesaving and fully lawful vaccine requirements."

    Tong chose his words carefully, it seems.

    While yesterday did mark the end of "a" legal challenge to the religious exemption, it did not the mark the end of "all" legal challenges to the religious exemption law in Connecticut.

    "Tong’s statement is misleading. Our legal challenge is still pending," said Attorney Lindy Urso in reference to Spillane v. Lamont, which was brought forward by Attorneys Urso, Jim Mermigis, and Kevin Barry, along with LeAnn Ducat and Christina Martinez.

    "As usual, Attorney General Tong is being disingenuous, at best.  His claim that "[t]his is is the end of the road to a challenge to Connecticut’s lifesaving and fully lawful vaccine requirements" is patently false," said Attorney Barry. "Our action challenging the removal of the religious exemption to the school vaccine mandates prevailed against the Governor's Motion to Dismiss and we are currently awaiting a ruling from the CT Supreme Court on the Governor's appeal of his loss.  Our challenge is alive and well."

    Spillane v. Lamont relies on protections provided under the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

    The case is considered ‘a novel case of first impression’, which means no one has ever tried this approach using RFRA before.  Connecticut is the only state which repealed the right to a religious exemption which also has a state RFRA statute. The RFRA statute requires a “strict scrutiny” judicial review, the highest level of judicial review of the legislature, to ensure that religious freedom has not been impacted when the state removed religious exemptions to vaccinations. 

    The We the Patriots case was dismissed in federal court using the lowest level of judicial scrutiny (the "rational basis" test) of the legislature's actions.

    But "strict scrutiny" puts the burden on the state to show that the law served a compelling state interest and that the law was narrowly tailored to that interest.

    "We look forward to surviving the Governor's appeal and finally putting this attack on religious freedom to the test at trial," said Attorney Urso. "This was - hopefully - that last vestige of Attorney Brian Festa's egomaniacal efforts to promote himself and his organization to the great detriment of the cause of religious freedom in Connecticut."

    If you want to follow the Spillane case, here's how you can do it:

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