The New York Supreme Court has ruled the state’s quarantine and isolation orders as unconstitutional, overturning the law handed down by Governor Kathy Hochul.
In February, Hochul ruled that health officials could enforce isolation and quarantine whenever they saw it necessary.
Rule 2.13 of the law, which addresses Isolation and Quarantine Procedures states, “Whenever appropriate to control the spread of a highly contagious communicable disease, the State Commissioner of Health may issue and/or may direct the local health authority to issue isolation and/or quarantine orders, consistent with due process of law, to all such persons as the State Commissioner of Health shall determine appropriate.”
The rule also gave authorities the ability to “monitor” people to “ensure compliance with the order and determine whether such person requires a higher level of medical care.”
However, on Friday, a New York Supreme Court judge struck down the rule, finding it to be in violation of state law.
After the passage of the rule, state Senator George Borello, two Republican state assembly members, and NYS unitedly filed a lawsuit against Governor Hochul and New York Health Commissioner Mary Bassett as well as the state health department and the Public Health and Health Planning Council, arguing that the rule lacked due process and was essentially too vague, giving authorities too much power when determining who to place in quarantine.
Section 2120 of the New York Public Health Law requires that an “independent magistrate” set the terms of detention.
State Supreme Court Justice Ronald Ploetz took a similar stance.
“The efficacy of isolating or quarantining infected individuals has been known to mankind since Biblical times, and probably before,” he wrote in his decision. “Respondents offered no scientific data or expert testimony why Rule 2.13 was a necessary response to combat Covid-19, but instead contend only that it would provide a quick and nimble approach to combatting the pandemic.”
“Involuntary detention is a severe deprivation of individual liberty, far more egregious than other health safety measures, such as requiring mask-wearing at certain venues,” he said. “Involuntary quarantine may have far-reaching consequences such as loss of income (or employment) and isolation from family.”
The state Supreme Court does not have final say in the ruling as it is likely that the case will be taken to the state Court of Appeals.
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