Federal Judge Denies Effort to Halt Implementation of Senate Bill 742
SACRAMENTO – As anti-vaccine extremists are escalating their tactics to disrupt and stop vaccine efforts, a federal court says that preventing contagious diseases through vaccination is in the public interest and rules against anti-vaccine extremists who attempt to obstruct and interfere with vaccine delivery.
“Preventing contagious diseases through vaccination is in the public interest, and a court has denied efforts to halt implementation of a provision that prohibits obstructing, injuring, intimidating or interfering with patients and health care workers at vaccination sites,” said Dr. Richard Pan, pediatrician and State Senator who authored Senate Bill 742. “This ruling recognizes that the state has a public interest in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and ‘availability and access to lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines are of paramount importance’. The judge ultimately ruled against anti-vaccine extremists who attempt to obstruct and interfere with vaccination delivery and recognized that critical provisions of SB742 did not interfere with First Amendment rights.”
Throughout the past year, we’ve seen hordes of anti-vaccine ‘activists’ threaten and terrorize people who simply want to protect themselves and their families by getting vaccinated. Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 742, creating law that gives local officials the tools they need to protect the rights of people to safely receive vaccinations. Specifically, under the law, a person would not be permitted to physically “obstruct, injure, harass, intimidate, or interfere with” a person getting a vaccine within 100 feet of the vaccine site.
In the 28-page ruling, U.S District Judge Dale Drozd placed a temporary hold on enforcement of "harassing", and denied efforts to halt implementation of SB 742 provisions that prohibit "obstructing, injuring, intimidating, or interfering". Also in the court brief:
“The court does not take consideration of the issues presented in this case lightly, particularly as it concerns the public interest in combating the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc around the world including California. Availability and access to the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines are of paramount importance in this ongoing fight against COVID-19 and to prevent the spread of this highly contagious and lethal virus. Despite these undeniable facts, the court recognizes that the COVID-19 vaccines have been a subject of controversy and protest, as defendant highlights in his opposition brief and as reported in the news articles cited therein. (See Doc. No. 15 at 7, 9–10.) The Legislature’s concerns about the harms it sought to address in enacting SB 742 are well-founded and worthy of the effort.”
“Over this past year, we have seen overwhelming community support for vaccinations to protect children and adults. Through the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine, we have a safe and effective way to prevent the devastating impact of the virus and I am happy to see the court recognize and uphold the rights of people who simply want access to the vaccine,” said Catherine Flores Martin, Executive Director of the California Immunization Coalition.
In the most talked about example, an anti-vaccine mob descended onto a large-scale vaccination site at Dodger stadium in Los Angeles, where they used intimidation and physical obstruction to keep people from getting vaccinated and they forced a temporary closure of the site. In the weeks since, anti-vaccine extremists have targeted other vaccine sites where they have tried to frighten and stop people from getting vaccinated.
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