Judge dismisses challenge to religious exemption elimination

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FILE – A healthcare worker fills a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Oct. 5, 2021, in Miami. Nearly 8,500 active duty members of the Air Force and Space Force have missed the deadline for getting COVID-19 vaccinations, including 800 who flatly refused and nearly 5,000 with pending requests for a religious exemption, the Air Force said Wednesday, Nov. 3. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

(AP) – A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging a law passed last year that eliminated Connecticut’s long-standing religious exemption from childhood immunization requirements for schools, colleges and day care facilities.

In a 33-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton said the state has an interest in protecting the health of Connecticut’s students. Arterton also said the plaintiffs failed to prove the state’s decision to end the exemption was “motivated by any religious animus,” noting concerns raised publicly by state legislators about the growing number of religious exemptions and declining vaccination rates.

The plaintiffs say they plan to appeal the decision, hoping it will eventually be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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