B.W.C. v. Williams
B.W.C. v. Williams (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, March 5, 2021): Parents of public-school children, on behalf of their children, alleged Missouri’s religious exemption from mandatory vaccination form was unconstitutional and violated the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of free exercise and equal protection, respectively. Parents objected to a statement on the mandatory form, issued by Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), which advised parents to vaccinate their children. The 8th Circuit, agreeing with the trial court, found the form neither required signers to support DHSS’ statement, nor act in a way contrary to their religious beliefs. The court also found the form was neutrally drafted and did not unfairly target religious individuals, precluding an equal protection violation. The plaintiffs also failed to articulate a viable hybrid rights claim (i.e., combining a free exercise claim with another constitutional claim). Read the full decision here.
View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – June 15, 2021.