Local leaders in Los Angeles, California, passed an ordinance in August that required all city employees to be fully vaccinated by October with limited exceptions.
A group of Los Angeles police officers pushed back by filing a lawsuit on the grounds that the mandate violated their constitutional rights — but a federal judge dismissed their complaint in a ruling this week.
“No fundamental right to continued governmental employment”
Those city workers who received a medical or religious exemption would be required to receive weekly COVID-19 tests.
The officers involved in the legal challenge argued that vaccine and testing mandates infringed on their right to privacy as well as the constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner determined otherwise, though he did leave the litigants with one constitutional path to keep fighting on religious discrimination grounds.
As the Los Angeles Times explained, Klausner found that the constitutional arguments raised in his court could not stand because the U.S. Supreme Court “has long rejected a fundamental right to refuse vaccination.”
Furthermore, the judge determined that there is “no fundamental right to continued governmental employment.”
“It is more important than ever”
According to the judge’s order, the vaccine mandate in question did not infringe on the “bodily integrity” of the officers and there was a “rational basis” for imposing the requirement.
Klausner went on to rule that weekly testing requirements represented only “negligible intrusions” in line with other requirements officers already face — such as random drug tests.
“Considering [the officers] are entrusted with public safety and have contractually consented to searches that are more invasive than those required by COVID tests, [they] undoubtedly have a reduced privacy interest here,” the judge wrote.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer touted the ruling as a “victory for public health and safety” that “comes at an especially crucial time.”
“With record numbers of COVID-19 cases each day, it is more important than ever that the first responders we trust to keep us safe comply with the vaccine mandate,” he said. “I urge all eligible Angelenos to get vaccinated and boosted, for the good of all of us.”