Washington, DC (December 10, 2021) – Thousands of Americans across the country are being forced to choose between getting a COVID-19 vaccine or keeping their jobs. The situation is intolerable, especially for those who already have antibodies against the virus. A video released today by the New Civil Liberties Alliance brings to light the constitutional issues associated with vaccine mandates for people who have obtained naturally acquired immunity through a prior COVID-19 infection. Jeanna Norris, a Supervisory Administrative Associate and Fiscal Officer at Michigan State University (MSU), and Todd Zywicki, a Law Professor at George Mason University’s (GMU) Antonin Scalia School of Law, sued their employers for violating their constitutional rights to bodily autonomy if they refused to get vaccinated.
Ms. Norris, lead plaintiff in Norris, et al. v. Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., et al., and Prof. Zywicki, lead plaintiff in Professor Todd Zywicki v. Gregory Washington, have fully recovered from COVID-19, and accordingly have natural immunity to the virus, as demonstrated by antibody testing. Medical experts provided attestations in both cases explaining that it is unnecessary from a medical standpoint for these individuals to undergo vaccination, as their naturally acquired immunity means they pose virtually no threat to themselves nor to anyone else—certainly no more threat than a fully vaccinated individual poses.
Ms. Norris and Professor Zywicki received exemptions based on conditions unique to them. However, two other plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit brought by NCLA against MSU have lost their jobs as a result of the vaccine mandate. Kraig Ehm, a video producer at MSU, from Laingsburg, Michigan, and D’Ann Rohrer, an extension educator at MSU from Ludington, Michigan, were both terminated in November because they declined to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan should recognize that employers cannot coerce or pressure employees into taking Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) vaccines by threatening them with termination if they don’t comply.
Excerpts from the video:
“NCLA has provided the opportunity to be heard and to have natural immunity validated, not just by the medical community, who already knows this exists, but by everyone. That natural immunity is legitimate and that it’s protective and that we are not a threat.”
— Jeanna Norris, Plaintiff, Norris, et al. v. Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., et al.
“It’s not just that it’s scary. It’s frustrating. It’s belittling to have these sorts of petty little tyrants standing between me and my doctor on what is an incredibly important and personal choice that can affect the entire rest of your life and health.”
— Todd Zywicki, Plaintiff, Professor Todd Zywicki v. Gregory Washington, et al.
“We think that the courts are wrong to continue to apply Jacobson to this situation. Since Jacobson was decided, there’s been a growing recognition of the importance of people’s ability to decline medical treatments, which is what’s at issue here.”
— Jenin Younes, Litigation Counsel, NCLA
“It’s unacceptable that people are having their jobs threatened in order to get this vaccine. That’s called an unconstitutional condition. It’s taking something that’s your constitutional right, that is, the right to refuse a vaccination, the right to your bodily integrity, and it’s using something else that’s valuable to you: your job, your livelihood, and it’s trying to leverage that thing that is meaningful to you in order to force you to give up your constitutional right. And that is why NCLA is fighting against these vaccine mandates where this unconstitutional condition leverage is being used.”
— Mark Chenoweth, Executive Director and General Counsel, NCLA
For more information visit the case pages for Norris here and Zywicki here.
NCLA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit civil rights group founded by prominent legal scholar Philip Hamburger to protect constitutional freedoms from violations by the Administrative State. NCLA’s public-interest litigation and other pro bono advocacy strive to tame the unlawful power of state and federal agencies and to foster a new civil liberties movement that will help restore Americans’ fundamental rights.