CHARLESTON — West Virginia Lawyer Normal Patrick Morrisey issued a authorized opinion Friday concluding that broad vaccine mandates and vaccine passport necessities, particularly these with out exceptions, could offend:
• Constitutional pursuits in private medical decision-making;
• The sacred constitutional proper to spiritual freedom; and
• Elementary rights to assemble, vote, petition, and customarily interact as a member of civil society.
Morrisey’s workplace undertook a detailed evaluation of the authorized and constitutional points arising from vaccine mandate and vaccine passport points, an Lawyer Normal Workplace’s press launch states.
“His workplace acknowledged a number of the present, problematic case regulation that weighs in in opposition to West Virginia’s liberty pursuits, but then superior authorized arguments that may present instruments for West Virginians who oppose the imposition of mandates, and are looking for reduction from the Legislature,” the discharge states.
The opinion additionally concludes that legal guidelines or insurance policies whether or not handed by a state, county or metropolis entity – requiring all authorities staff to be COVID vaccinated – would violate the state structure in addition to state and federal legal guidelines.
Morrisey’s opinion letter and proposals to the Legislature come on the heels of a significant announcement from President Joe Biden that seeks to impose a brand new, broad-based federal mandate on giant employers and different entities. Morrisey indicated that he was already in shut contact with different attorneys basic places of work about how states can be preventing again in opposition to the President’s proposal.
“There must be no purpose for hesitation in passing a ban on vaccine mandates or passport necessities or, at a minimal, requiring non secular or medical exemptions in such necessities,” Morrisey mentioned. “President Biden has proven us the pathway of what to not do. We have to encourage and counsel, however not mandate, our option to public well being.
“I can be in litigation in opposition to the Biden Administration very quickly to guard West Virginians from this historic overreach.”
The 21-page letter expresses considerations that vaccine mandates or passports instituted by a personal employer could violate federal and state anti-discrimination legal guidelines, particularly if exceptions for non secular and disability-based objections are usually not offered for.
Morrisey’s opinion recommends that the state Legislature at the moment ought to preclude broad-based COVID vaccine mandates, one in every of a number of strategies that he believes lawmakers have the authority to enact to guard particular person liberty pursuits, whereas nonetheless defending the general public well being.