Attorney General Steve Marshall recently led an amicus brief in defense of a group of New York Amish-only private schools facing the state's ban on religious vaccine exemptions.

New York removed religious vaccine exemptions in 2019 after a mass measles outbreak, mainly in the Orthodox Jewish community. Since then, some Amish families have filed suit, claiming the law violates their First Amendment right to adhere to their religious beliefs. A judge denied the families' request to halt the law, and the matter is now before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Marshall filed the brief in the Second Circuit, alleging violations of the First Amendment in preventing families from exercising their deeply held religious beliefs.

"New York has so little regard for religion that it will seek out, harass, and threaten Amish communities that want only to live out their faith amongst themselves," said Marshall.

"Parents should not be forced to choose between their children's schooling and their fundamental rights. Unfortunately, we're seeing a growing trend of hostility toward religious liberty. I was shocked to learn that members of the New York legislature had called such religious beliefs' fake' and 'garbage.' We need to resist this hostility before it infects the federal courts too," he added.

The brief argues that the First Amendment was designed to protect religious minorities like the Amish. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly defended parental rights in religious education and the religious upbringing of one's children. The brief also argues that the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York wrongly found that New York's repeal of religious accommodations was "neutral and generally applicable." 

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 joined Marshall's brief.

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