Monday 12 December 2022

Clinton Judge Strikes Down Montana Law That Blocks Vaccine Mandates and Sharing of Employees’ Vaccine Status – Says its “Unconstitutional”


On Friday night, a Bill Clinton-appointed federal judge ruled that parts of Montana’s “vaccine discrimination” law were unconstitutional.

House Bill 702 (“HB 702”) was passed by the 2021 Montana Legislature and became effective when signed by Governor Gianforte on May 7, 2021. The law prohibits discrimination based on vaccination status or having an immunity passport.

According to KXLF, “the Montana Medical Association, Montana Nurses Association, a number of medical facilities and impacted individuals challenged the law saying it “jeopardizes physicians’ ability to maintain best practices now in place for protecting patients and staff from vaccine-preventable diseases” and alleged the law is unconstitutional in regards to health care facilities.” 

U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy ruled on Friday that the “vaccine discrimination” law was unconstitutional and conflicted with federal law.

Montana Free Press reported:

The 41-page ruling written by Judge Donald W. Molloy found that, while justified by state attorneys as an anti-discrimination measure, the law effectively restricts health care employers from using vaccination status to “assist with setting workplace policies or vaccination regarding any vaccine-preventable disease.”

Plaintiffs included Providence Health, Western Montana Clinic, Five Valleys Urology, the Montana Medical Association, the Montana Nurses Association and four individual immunocompromised patients. In a statement, Nurse’s Association attorney Raph Graybill called the order “a win for all Montanans, who shouldn’t have to worry about catching an infectious disease when they go to see the nurse or doctor.”

“The trial showed that attacks on public health and ordinary vaccinations … put Montanans at risk,” Graybill said.

State Attorney General Austin Knudsen and Department of Labor Commissioner Laurie Essau were the defendants in the case.

“We’re reviewing the ruling to determine next steps. Attorney General Knudsen is continuing to fight for the rights of healthcare workers,” said attorney general spokesperson Emilee Cantrell, citing a recent petition Knudsen and 21 other state attorneys general filed to repeal a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers.

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