By Steve Korris -Kanawha Bureau
RICHMOND, Va. — U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin committed an error when he denied a mother’s right to send a child to school without vaccinations, a lawyer has told the Fourth Circuit appeals judges.
Pierpont, N.Y., lawyer Patricia Finn represents Jennifer Workman, who seeks to enroll her eight-year-old daughter in Lenore School in Mingo County.
Workman claims state officials improperly rejected a doctor’s certificate advising against vaccination.
She asserts violations of constitutional amendments providing free exercise of religion, due process, and equal protection.
Goodwin granted a temporary order enrolling her child last year, but six months later he granted summary judgment to state officials on all claims.
He wrote, “Her beliefs do not exempt her from complying with West Virginia’s mandatory immunization program.”
He wrote that she presented no evidence of unequal treatment resulting from intentional or purposeful discrimination, finding all the evidence to the contrary.
West Virginia law requires immunization against diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus, and whooping cough for children entering school.
West Virginia doesn’t allow exemptions for religious beliefs, as does every other state but Mississippi.
Finn called West Virginia and Mississippi “oddball states” at oral argument Dec. 9 in Richmond, according to the Associated Press.
AP reported that Justice Steven Agee told Workman to argue the point with West Virginia legislators rather than with a court.
West Virginia does allow an exemption if a doctor certifies that immunization would be impossible or improper.