Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall backs Amish rights amidst New York vaccine mandates

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has teamed up with 19 other states to show their support for the religious freedoms of the Amish community in rural New York.

In 2019, the state made the decision to discontinue granting exemptions from vaccinations based on religious beliefs. This move was prompted by a reported measles outbreak.

Marshall, a strong advocate for the Amish and Amish schools, joined forces with several states including Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia. Together, they presented an amicus brief in support of their cause.

The brief contends that denying religious exemptions for vaccine mandates imposes significant penalties on Amish schools and infringes upon parents’ First Amendment rights to practice their religion and raise their children in alignment with their religious convictions.

According to Marshall, the state of New York shows a lack of respect towards religion by actively targeting, intimidating, and endangering Amish communities who simply wish to practice their faith in peace. He firmly believes that parents should never be put in a position where they have to choose between their children’s education and their basic rights to religious freedom.

The First Amendment was specifically created to safeguard the rights of religious minorities, such as the Amish. It is argued that the current law discriminates against religion, as it allows students to be exempt from vaccination if they provide “health” reasons, but not if they cite religious beliefs.

The states have raised concerns in the brief regarding the elimination of religious exemptions for vaccine requirements. They argue that this is a worrisome trend that infringes upon the long-standing liberties protected by the First Amendment. This concern comes after California, Connecticut, Maine, and New York have already ceased accepting religious exemptions.

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