A New York Supreme Court judge this month quietly ruled that regulations mandating that people infected with or exposed to highly contagious communicable diseases be quarantined are a violation of state law, declaring them null and void.
The Isolation and Quarantine procedures, known as Rule 2.13, were enacted in February.
Under the rule, “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.”
Isolations may include those at home, or in residential or temporary housing, subject to what the public health authority issuing the order determines is “appropriate.”
However, the rule notes that “where symptoms or conditions indicate that medical care in a general hospital is expected to be required, the isolation location shall be a general hospital.”
Three Republican state legislators, Sen. George Borrello, assemblyman Chris Tague, and assemblyman Michael Lawler, along with Uniting NYS, filed a lawsuit against Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul, Commissioner of Health Mary Bassett, the state’s health department, and the Public Health and Health Planning Council.
Plaintiffs argued that the Isolation and Quarantine procedures were in violation of the New York State Constitution and a violation of the separation of powers.
“It’s unconstitutional in our eyes, and anything like that should go through the legislature,” Tague told local media.
“It should have an opportunity to be debated. To be able to have facts brought forth by health professionals, and leaders within our communities before we just decide to put something into law.”
In a July 8 ruling, Acting Justice of the Supreme Court of Cattaraugus County Ronald D. Ploetz sided with the plaintiffs, stating that the rule merely gives “lip service” to constitutional due process.
“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. Involuntary quarantine may have far-reaching consequences such as loss of income (or employment) and isolation from family,” Ploetz wrote.
The judge added that there was “no scientific data or expert testimony” to back up the rule.