FROM THE LIBERTY COUNSEL
November 27, 2001
SCHOOL BOARD SUED AFTER EXPELLING STUDENT WHO REFUSED INOCULATIONS BECAUSE OF RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS
New York, New York - Today in federal court Lynn Friedman, D.C., on behalf of her son Luke Friedman, filed suit against the Clarkstown Central School District and the New York State Department of Health claiming the District and the Department of Health violated state and federal law by refusing to grant religious exemptions to forced inoculations. The parents and students are represented by Attorneys Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel, of Liberty Counsel and Joel Oster, Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel.
New York state law requires school-aged children to be subjected to a laundry list of various vaccinations. State law provides exemptions to the vaccinations for medical reasons and to those who object based on religious grounds. Luke Friedman is a Kindergarten student at Lakewood Elementary School. Lukes parents are opposed to immunizations for religious reasons. They believe that their body is the temple of God and that they should not defile their body by injecting it with artificial toxins. Lynn Friedman, Lukes mother, filed a request with the school district to be exempted from immunizations for religious reasons. The Department of Health regulations state that a school district can require "supporting documentation" of a religious belief to determine whether an individual is entitled to an exemption from vaccinations. Relying on this regulation, the School District required Mrs. Friedman to respond to a lengthy questionnaire concerning her religious beliefs and then required her to submit to a deposition under oath regarding her religious beliefs. During the deposition she was asked very detailed and intrusive questions about her religious beliefs. The School District then denied her religious exemption and Luke was expelled from school on November 21, 2001.
The lawsuit claims that the School Board is violating state law which requires the Board to grant exemptions based upon religious objections to inoculations. The lawsuit also claims that the Department of Health Regulations are unconstitutional because they allow school districts to subject parents to inquisitions regarding their religious beliefs and give the school district the opportunity to determine whether an individuals religious belief are orthodox or are entitled to protection.
Staver said, "The Clarkstown Central School District, with the support and authority of the State Department of Health, is requiring Mrs. Friedman to abandon her religious beliefs in exchange for receiving a public education. This the Board cannot do." Staver also stated, "Subjecting parents to detailed and intrusive investigations, such as what Mrs. Freidman encountered, not only violates the United States Constitutions guarantee of religious freedom, but also hearkens back to the Inquisition. The Supreme Court stated long ago that no government official may determine what is orthodox in religion." Staver concluded, "The School District and the State Department of Health are obligated by the Constitution to protect and defend the religious beliefs of parents. The Defendants in this case instead steamrolled those constitutional rights."
November 28, 2001
FROM LIBERTY COUNSEL
FEDERAL COURT ISSUE TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER ON VACCINATION CASE
Yesterday, federal judge Sidney Stein, issued a temporary restraining order against the Clarkstown Central School District on behalf of Dr. Lynn Friedman and her son, Luke. The suit was brought by Liberty Counsel and filed in federal court yesterday morning. Luke, who is in kindergarten, refused vaccinations because of religious reasons. The school evicted him on November 21, 2001. He may now return to school as of today. The court has set December 19 to hear our request for preliminary injunctive relief. The TRO is good by law for ten days. That is why we must go back for the hearing to extend the TRO on December 19. Joel Oster flew to New York Monday morning, filed the case yesterday and presented oral arguments, and is returning to Orlando today following yesterdays victory.
Note: This is an important case to follow. NVIC (http://www.909shot.com) has received numerous reports from NY residents who have been harassed by the public school system for their religious beliefs concerning vaccination. Last year the Supreme Court of Wyoming stopped this kind of practice when the Health Department required parents to "prove" their religious sincerity. The Court said the Health Dept did not have the statutory authority to do this.
Update 2005: We have learned that the parent lost this case
and, as a result, removed her child from the school district.
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