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Federal Court: Unvaccinated Children Don't Have Full Rights to Public Education

What's the Latest?

Parents' constitutional right to freely exercise their religion does not necessarily except their children from receiving vaccinations, provided the parents want their children to attend classes at publicly funded schools. This is the ruling handed down last week by the Brooklyn Federal District Court which cited a 1905 Supreme Court ruling permitting the state of Massachusetts to fine individuals refusing to receive the smallpox vaccine. "[Brooklyn District Court] Judge William Kuntz ruled that the court had 'strongly suggested that religious objectors are not constitutionally exempt from vaccinations.'"

What's the Big Idea?

Given that 48 states, including New York, currently allow for individuals to object to receiving vaccinations on religious grounds, the Brooklyn ruling is likely to be revisited by a higher court in the near future. From a public policy standpoint, the ruling seems to make good sense: "Earlier this spring, during a measles outbreak in New York, the unvaccinated sibling of a home-schooled child who'd been infected was barred from attending public school. That sibling ultimately contracted the disease, and keeping him home prevented it from spreading further."

Read more at Vox

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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