The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on individuals, families, and small businesses. Now that numerous vaccines have received full FDA approval, many companies are requiring their employees to be vaccinated. Furthermore, the Washington legislature has instituted a policy requiring state representatives to present proof of vaccinations against COVID-19 before they are allowed on the floor of the house.
Recently, several Republican members of the Washington State House of Representatives filed a lawsuit seeking to halt the requirement that members show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 before moving to the floor of the house. The lawsuit asked for an injunction until the full legal challenge could be heard.
In the lawsuit, the members are claiming that the new policy limits access to facilities in the House of Representatives unlawfully. The lawsuit also claims that the new requirement violates the First Amendment rights of the members of the House of Representatives. In addition, the lawsuit targets house restrictions that prevent representatives from accessing their offices without proof of vaccination.
A judge in the Superior Court in the state of Washington disagreed with the position of the plaintiffs. She stated that the plaintiffs had not met the threshold to be granted a preliminary injunction. She claims that the restrictions do not prevent the legislators from doing their jobs, and denied them the preliminary injunction. Of note, this preliminary denial does not mean that the lawsuit is unsuccessful. It simply means that the legislators will not have the requirements halted temporarily until the fall case can be heard.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the case moving forward. There are numerous controversies taking place across the country related to vaccination requirements. For example, the state senate allows legislators and their staffers to be on the floor of the Senate regardless of vaccination status. Members simply need to receive a negative test before they are allowed on the floor of the Senate.
The results of this lawsuit could be seen as a precedent for the rest of the state. Even though it might be a while before the case is heard, everyone in the state of Washington will follow the lawsuit closely.