On Sept. 22, Judge Monica J. Brasington of the 8th Florida Circuit Court granted a temporary emergency injunction requested by the employees of the city government. This prevented the city from enforcing its Oct. 1 deadline for employees to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The city did not put on any evidence, at all, at the injunction hearing,” Brasington writes in her ruling. “Without any evidence, the court is unable to consider whether the vaccine mandate serves a compelling interest through the least restrictive means, whether the vaccine mandate meets a strict scrutiny test, a rational basis test or whether it meets any other standard.”
Brasington rules in favor of the Gainesville city employees under the Florida Constitution’s guarantee of the right to privacy.
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According to the judge, the state constitution guarantees the right to privacy. Meaning, every person “has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life except as otherwise provided herein.”
“The city’s vaccine mandate facially interferes with its employees’ right to refuse unwanted medical treatments and/or procedures, implicates plaintiffs’ fundamental right to privacy and is ‘presumptively unconstitutional,’” writes Brasington.
City government continuing fight for vaccine mandate despite state intervention
On Oct. 4, the lawyers representing the city filed a motion asking Brasington to reconsider her decision. They argue that the judge applied the “wrong legal standard” when she passed her ruling.
Doug Woolief of the Florida Department of Health sends the city government a letter warning that it is now in violation of a recently passed state law that prohibits local government from requiring proof of vaccination or recovery from a former COVID-19 infection.
Violating this new state law would force the offender to pay a fine of $5,000 for each employee who was required to provide proof of vaccination. The city government has more than 2,200 employees.
This means that if the city insists on mandating vaccinations for city employees, it could be forced to pay over $11 million.
City workers are initially hopeful due to an email from the city saying that the vaccination requirement would be dropped. But this hope was quickly quashed after the city government said it still plans to fight this case in the courts.
Jeff Childers, a Gainesville attorney representing around 250 city employees in the legal battle, is not worried about the case because none of the facts have changed. He has filed a response to the city’s latest motion, writing that the request for the judge to change her decision should be denied.
He writes: “It is just a rehash of the arguments it raised at the hearing, but this time combined with a variety of logical fallacies, strawmen, red herrings, false dichotomies, references to evidence not in the record, citations to inapplicable authority and wild speculation about the potential future direction of Supreme Court law – even though the Supreme Court has already spoken to the core issue.”
Childers has also been working to help attorneys across the country to fight similar legal battles challenging COVID-19 mandates. He is currently leading or helping with more than a dozen cases in four different states that are challenging school mask mandates and vaccine mandates. (Related: Lawyers are preparing to defend natural immunity as potential exemption to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.)
According to Childers, challenges to vaccine and mask mandates can win. Attorneys and legal groups should look to state laws regarding privacy and bodily autonomy.
“There’s tons of stuff for lawyers to mine in state laws,” said Childers. “Almost every state has something useful to fight these mandates.”
Learn more about the fight against coronavirus-related mandates by reading the latest articles at Freedom.news.
Article by Arsenio Toledo
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