DOJ asks SCOTUS to dismiss Arizona pediatric vaccine law amid challenge

As Justice Department lawyers defend an Arizona law that bars minors from getting vaccinated without a parent’s permission, the Trump administration is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue and dismiss a legal challenge.

In a court filing Friday, the Department of Justice said the parent-child lawsuit against the law was premature. Arizona last year became the third state to pass such a law.

The change in Arizona law went into effect in July, after a federal appeals court ruling. But some parents have appealed that decision, saying it violates their rights to direct medical decisions. A federal judge in Kansas has temporarily blocked that new Arizona law.

According to the Department of Justice, Arizona’s law has led to changes in Arizona health and education officials, and will help protect the health of Arizona children.

The Arizona law aims to encourage the proper vaccinations of Arizona children entering school. Under the state’s laws, parents have to go to their children’s pediatrician with a signed declaration that they’ve consulted with their child’s doctor or an attorney before being allowed to opt out of vaccinations. Medical staff and school administrators can also dispute parents’ assertions.

Parents who opt out must take their children out of school until they fully comply with vaccination requirements. The law is intended to improve vaccination rates among children and prevent disease outbreaks, the Department of Justice said.

Andrew Doba, a spokesman for Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, said the new law “is something that the governor supports and looks forward to signing, now that our constitutional law experts have explained it to the Supreme Court.”

Democratic opponents of the law, including former Gov. Jan Brewer, have argued it’s a violation of the constitutional rights of parents to make health care decisions for their children. Brewer, who signed the bill, noted it takes effect after students graduate from high school.

“More than 300 Arizona parents have asked the Supreme Court to strike down this unnecessary and invasive measure before school starts in August,” said attorney Mary Kline, who is representing several parents in the Arizona case. “Anytime we have an attempt by the state to intrude in the privacy of parents to make the health care decisions that should be made solely by parents, it’s an outrage.”

But the Justice Department says the Arizona law allows parents to seek a second opinion and “resolves any debate about the proper medical use of vaccination, and properly endorses vaccines to benefit public health.”

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