Dozens of state patrol soldiers, firefighters and other state employees have filed a lawsuit against Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, for his COVID-19 vaccine tenure, alleging he overstepped his authority and violated state law.
The lawsuit, filed Friday by Seattle attorney Nathan Arnold in Walla Walla County Superior Court, sets out seven causes of action against Inslee and pays particular attention to the nature of the state’s religious exemptions, which it says the plaintiffs, constitute a deprivation of religious liberty by virtue of the state. Constitution.
In August, Inslee ordered all state employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by October 18, or face dismissal. Washington state’s vaccine mandate is one of the strictest in the country.
BIDEN MANDATE EXEMPT CONGRESS ON COVID-19 VACCINE
Of the more than 90 individual complainants, more than 53 are state patrol employees, some are employees of the Department of Corrections, and several others work for the fire department or the state ferry system.
“Some plaintiffs have, as a statutory right and a right guaranteed by the Constitution of Washington, asked for a religious exemption from the mandate of the governor,” the lawsuit reads in part. “As a condition for taking into account the religious exemptions of the complainants, the state or its agencies demanded the submission of a” religious questionnaire “that improperly investigated private matters protected regarding health care decisions and the sentiment, belief and religious worship. “
The lawsuit included screenshots of emails in which Inslee’s general counsel, Kathryn Leathers, discussed exempt language with the state attorney general’s office. The complaint highlighted what Leathers wrote in an August 3, 2021 email: “Exemptions: medical for sure; and religious (if we must; if so, as narrow as possible). “
The lawsuit then alleged that some of the plaintiffs who submitted the requested religious exemption questionnaire “saw their religious sincerity called into question and were compelled to provide additional information.”
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“Complainants each risk deprivation of their life, liberty or property as a direct result of both state inquiries into the religious questionnaire which do not conform to due process, and the governor’s mandate which has not been properly or legally enacted, and that is not in accordance with due process, ”says the lawsuit.
“These requirements are fully in accordance with the law. We look forward to responding in court,” an Inslee spokesperson wrote in an email, according to the Seattle Times.