The Network for Public Health Law monitors key court cases and relevant judicial trends in public health. The Network’s monthly reporter, Judicial Trends in Public Health (JTPH), highlights select published cases in public health law and policy from the prior three months. These cases are organized below by name, issuing court, date of issuance, along with a brief synopsis, and include link to the case abstract and hyperlink to the full decisions (when publicly available). For more information, including a topic digest of these and other cases, see below. Questions, comments, thoughts? Contact the Network for more information.
United States v. Texas (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, October 6, 2021): The federal district court issued an order prohibiting Texas from enforcing S.B. 8, which prohibits abortion if cardiac activity has been detected in the embryo, with no exceptions for pregnancies that result from rape or for a fetus with a defect incompatible with life after birth. Read the abstract here.
Doyle v. Tidball (Supreme Court of Missouri, July 22, 2021): Plaintiffs, residents of Missouri, sued the state Department of Social Services (DSS) after it refused to provide them with Medicaid coverage. Read the abstract here.
Arizona School Boards Association Inc. v. Arizona (Arizona Superior Court, Aug. 27, 2021): Several plaintiffs, including nonprofit organizations and individual plaintiffs, sued the state of Arizona, alleging that four recently passed budget reconciliation bills violated the title and single subject rules of the Arizona Constitution, and that one additionally violated the state constitution’s equal protection clause. Read the abstract here.
Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, et al. v. Slatery, et al. (U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit, Sept. 10, 2021): The 6th Circuit affirmed a lower court’s judgment blocking enforcement of two sections of a strict abortion regulation enacted in Tennessee. Read the abstract here.
Streight v. Pritzker (U.S. District Court, N.D. Ill., Sept. 22, 2021): The court denied a public college student’s request to block his school’s COVID-19 testing requirement based on a claim that it was an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment. Read the abstract here.
Committee for Public Counsel Services, et al. v. Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office, et al. (Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Sept. 28, 2021): Massachusetts’ highest court found that local sheriffs that operate detention facilities have not acted with deliberate indifference in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the abstract here.
Heffer v. Krebs (Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Second Department, July 28, 2021): The Supreme Court of New York, appellate division, upheld an order denying a mother’s request for a change in custody and to hold her child’s father in contempt for vaccinating their child in violation of their separation agreement. Read the abstract here.
Payan v. Los Angeles Community College District (U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit, Aug. 24, 2021): Plaintiffs, including a nonprofit advocacy group and students enrolled at a Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) campus, argued that LACCD systematically discriminated against blind students by failing to make learning materials accessible in violation of the Rehabilitation Act and Americans with Disabilities Act. Read the abstract here.
London v. Delaware Department of Corrections, et al. (U.S. District Court, D. Del., Sept. 20, 2021): The court dismissed plaintiff London’s claim that non-medical prison officials in the Delaware Department of Corrections violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment by failing to provide adequate medical care for her diagnosed gender dysphoria. Read the abstract here.
Hawse v. Page (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, July 30, 2021): Plaintiffs, church members in Saint Louis County, Missouri, challenged a public health order in response to COVID-19 in part limiting the number of attendees in churches, arguing it violated their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, Missouri’s state constitution, and Missouri’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Read the abstract here.
Valdez v. Grisham (U.S. District Court, D.N.M., Sept. 13, 2021): Plaintiffs, a healthcare worker and an individual wishing to participate in the New Mexico State Fair along with her children, brought a class action complaint against the New Mexico Department of Health, claiming that a newly promulgated public health order in response to the COVID-19 Delta variant violated state and federal civil rights protections. Read the abstract here.
JTPH is a collaboration of the Network’s Western and Eastern Region Offices led by Editor-in Chief, Jennifer Piatt, JD, Deputy Director, Western Region Office. Additional Western Region contributors include: James G. Hodge, Jr., JD, LLM, Rebecca Freed, Joshua Kalanick, and Nora Wells. Eastern Region contributors include Kathi Hoke, JD, Kerri McGowan Lowrey, JD, MPH, Mathew R. Swinburne, JD, Brooke Torton, JD, and Megan Griest, MPP.
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