Washington, D.C.’s Religious Exemption Form
You Can’t Make This Stuff Up…
NOTICE: To those concerned with NY’s A276B, a bill to allow minor children to consent to vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases (following CA’s disturbing unconstitutional lead), see “Child Consent Laws: Constitutional? No, and Here’s Why.” A minority of people going up against a pharma bill has little chance of succeeding. Those chances may be significantly enhanced by presenting legislators with a formal legal argument explaining why the proposed new law is unconstitutional (unless the political process is for show and the outcome is already predetermined, which is often the case with vaccines. In that case, an entirely different approach altogether is needed). I may be able to assist activists with formulating a professional Constitutional analysis if desired.
A question arose recently concerning the legality of Washington, D.C.’s vaccine religious exemption form for daycare and school vaccines. An assessment of the form and relevant D.C. laws is below.
[Obligatory disclaimer: The information below is for information and, as it turns out in this instance, entertainment purposes, only. Nothing presented here is or intended to be legal advice. For advice about your situation, consult an attorney knowledgeable about exemptions (if you can find one). I can assist parents and their local attorney if desired.]
I. Relevant D.C. Laws
A. Statutes: The Code of the District of Columbia states: “No student shall be admitted by a school unless the school has certification of immunization for that student, or unless the student is exempted pursuant to § 38-506.” [i] The exemption code states: “No certification of immunization shall be required for the admission to a school of a student: (1) For whom the responsible person objects in good faith and in writing, to the chief official of the school, that immunization would violate his or her religious beliefs; or (2) For whom the school has written certification by a private physician, his or her representative, or the public health authorities that immunization is medically inadvisable.”[ii]
B. Regulations: D.C. Municipal Regulations state: “A person claiming religious exemption from immunization for a child shall file the religious exemption form at the beginning of each school year for each child for which the exemption is claimed. A person electing to opt-out of immunization with the HPV vaccination for a child shall file the HPV vaccination opt-out form at the beginning of each school year for each child for which there is an opt-out to be filed.”[iii]
C. Health Department Form: The D.C. Health Department (“D.C. Health”) posts a sample religious exemption form[iv] with instructions. The instructions state that requesting a religious exemption requires the Health Department form. The form itself states that “DC law 3-20 requires parents to write a letter that declares this sincerely held religious belief and provide it to DC Health.”
II. Conflicts in D.C. Law
A. Exemption Procedure. The statute requires objecting in writing to the chief official of the school. The regulation requires a form delivered to the Health Department. The form instructions say the form is required, but the posted sample form quotes law referring to a letter that must be given to the Health Department.
You can’t make this stuff up. With three different religious exemptions procedures from three different authoritative sources, what’s a D.C. parent to do?!
Statutes generally supersede regulations. D.C. Health, an agency, can’t override federal statutes. The D.C. Code’s religious exemption statute doesn’t say, “…unless D.C. Health creates and requires a form.” So, D.C. Health can’t require the form; they can only offer it as an option, and even then, only if there are statutes delegating the agency the power to do that.
So, parents arguably have a choice: A writing to the school as indicated in the D.C. Code, the health department form as indicated in the regulations, or even a letter to the department as indicated on the form, though the form itself and the form instructions are not enforceable law. But how could the agency reasonably argue with language printed on their own form?
D.C. Health, an agency, lacks authority to modify or override D.C. Code (statutes); it can only add details within the statutory boundaries to the extent that statutes delegate authority to the agency to do that. D.C. Health’s assertion that the form is “required” is arguably illegal, the agency applying power it doesn’t legally have. D.C. Health can only offer the form as an option to the D.C. Code’s religious exemption, and then only if authority to do that has been delegated to the agency.
B. Mystery Law. The sample form cites “D.C. law 3-20.” D.C. law? This sloppy drafting. It’s not a proper legal citation. First, we can’t even tell what law they’re referring to. The D.C. Code? The D.C. Municipal Regulations? Something else? The exemption statute is D.C. Code § 38-506, and the exemption regulation is 22-B DCMR § 129.11, neither of which is “D.C. law 3-20.” Second, the form’s quote of “law 3-20” is inconsistent with the Code and regulation. If this is simply an outdated sample form, why hasn’t the department revised their sample form?
III. Fraud and Constitutional Violations
A. Fraud. The sample form requires exempting parents to initial and date 13 separate paragraphs, one paragraph for each of the thirteen vaccines the parent is refusing. This is inappropriately coercive, highly so for a religious exemption form.
Each paragraph states the (alleged) risks of the disease. What isn’t stated is:
1) What the statistical chances are of a child contracting any of these diseases in the first place (which are quite low).
2) What the statistical chances of developing any of the listed severe symptoms are for children who contract each disease (also low).
3) The potential benefits of contracting some diseases. E.g., childhood mumps and measles, benign acute diseases, provide long-term protection from some cancers and other chronic diseases in adulthood.
4) And, of course, no reference to the much greater risk of vaccine injury or death from the vaccines compared to risks from the diseases.
The lack of complete, fully accurate, and balanced information is inexcusable. The substantially biased, coercive nature of these paragraphs makes D.C. Health a party to “profits over the health and safety of innocent children,” as occurs throughout the so-called “civilized” world. The world’s children are expendable where pharma profits are concerned; pawns to be sacrificed to win the ruling psychopaths money/control game. And health agency personnel blindly play along “just doing my job,” oblivious to the massive harm they’re perpetrating on society.
This D.C. form—indeed, decades of vaccine policy internationally—have involved massive fraud leading to trillions of profit dollars over decades while killing and disabling countless millions. Vaccines introduce chronic illness throughout the population to create lifelong customers for other pharmaceutical products seeking to manage—not to cure and lose customers/money—those chronic diseases. At the top levels, this has all been deliberate, with profits and harm both steadily increasing over time.
I don’t believe the English language has words for this.
B. First Constitutional Violation. On a far lesser if nevertheless critical legal note, the D.C. form violates the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment’s free speech right. It turns out that “free speech” includes the right to be free from being compelled (by government) to speak. A form offering a religious exemption on the condition that the parent seeking the exemption indicates, by signing the form, the parent’s agreement with the department’s views on infectious disease constitutes compelled speech. “To get the exemption you must admit what a terrible parent you are.” Apparently, “good parents” are the ones who blindly risk sacrificing their children for pharma profits. Anyway, this form violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Had the form said only that “your signature below indicates that you understand our beliefs about the risks of foregoing vaccination,” there would not have been a First Amendment free speech violation. (It would still be massively fraudulent, though, with respect to the accuracy and incompleteness of the information.)
For purposes of assessing the Constitutional free speech question, it doesn’t matter whether the compelled speech is true; it’s the act of compelling speech to get a government benefit that’s unconstitutional. The form requires parents to agree with the Department’s view of infectious disease thirteen times to get the exemption.
C. Second Constitutional Violation. The form is also a shameless, disgusting attempt to override parents’ allegiance to God or their conscience, which has nothing to do with science (even if the form’s infectious disease assertions were true, complete, and balanced). It is government’s job to balance conflicting needs and rights—here, the Constitutional “free exercise” of religion with any opposing health and safety needs of the community—but that balancing occurs at the level of drafting and enacting laws, not in their application. Once those who enact laws determine that it’s safe to allow religious exemptions and pass laws providing for that (the supposed risks of which are balanced by health authorities’ authority to declare emergencies, to require exempt children to stay home during outbreaks,[v] etc.), the only thing for health departments to do is to ensure that proper procedure is followed regarding the exercise of the exemption. Unless, of course, they are co-opted by pharma as marketing and population control tools. This is, indeed, what has happened, from the lowly D.C. Health Department right on up to the World Health Organization. But legally, this form arguably violates parent’s Constitutional free exercise of religion, as a legal technicality; and makes a mockery of the Constitution by trying to coerce parents out of exercising their legal right to follow God or their conscience. That’s emotionally abusive—the opposite of what health departments are supposed to do.
IV. Health Department Confusion
A parent recently reported calling the D.C. Health Department and asking about the religious exemption form. She got passed around to at least 3 different people and ended up being passed back to the first person who passed her off to someone else. (Did I mention “you can’t make this stuff up” yet?). Apparently, no one at the D.C. Health Department knows anything about their religious exemption, or who at that agency should know about it so they can refer callers to that person. But given the dysfunctional D.C. laws and Health Department form, we shouldn’t be surprised that department employees are similarly disorganized and confused on the subject. I pray they have some competency on other important D.C. health matters.
I explored this matter to see whether there were any Constitutional concerns with the D.C. religious exemption form. There are. These problems have come up before in the states, so I was familiar with the concerns. But I did not expect to find a mass of confused, contradictory laws. I’ve never seen state laws as messed up as this. Friends, D.C. is our nation’s capital. A model for the country and the world. Someone please slap me, wake me up and tell me it was just a bad dream. Surely this can’t be real. Vaccine policy is fraudulent everywhere. But D.C.’s systemic dysfunctionality stands out among all others I’ve seen.
Alan Phillips, J.D.
Vaccine Rights Legal Expert
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Alan Phillips, J.D., is the nation’s leading vaccine rights legal expert, the only person who’s ever been a fulltime attorney with exemptions, who’s worked in all 6 dozen exemption contexts and sub-contexts, and who’s worked with clients, attorneys, legislators, and activists nationally for over two decades. For exemption help, see vaccinerights.com.