Judge rejects third bid to halt Washington’s state worker vaccine mandate
For the third time in two weeks, a judge has rejected a bid to halt Washington’s recently-imposed vaccine mandate for state workers.
This latest lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Eastern Washington, led by several Spokane firefighters, as well as a handful of other state workers. The case from plaintiffs was similar to other lawsuits against the mandate, claiming that they had not been properly accommodated for exemptions, and that their constitutional rights had been violated.
They had hoped to get an emergency restraining order against the mandate while the lawsuit played out in court, but ultimately, Judge Thomas Rice struck down the motion.
Rice pointed out that the Supreme Court “has long endorsed state and local government authority to impose compulsory vaccines.” That includes a 1906 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which upheld a smallpox vaccine mandate imposed by the Cambridge Board of Health.
This marks the third time a judge has rejected a request for an injunction against Washington’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Most recently, a Thurston County Superior Court judge ruled against a lawsuit filed by a group of state troopers, ferry employees, and firefighters, among others, stating that the case was “not likely to prevail on its merits.”
Days before that, a federal judge similarly denied a request to halt the state’s vaccine mandate in a lawsuit filed by workers from several Western Washington fire departments, as well as the Washington State Department of Transportation, the state Department of Corrections, and Washington State Patrol.
Almost 1,900 state employees either quit or were terminated following the Oct. 18 implementation of Washington’s worker vaccine mandate.