Victor Booth (pictured with his family) won a preliminary injunction against DC’s Minor Consent to Vaccination bill on March 18, 2022.
Victor Booth had every reason to be concerned for his children. As a father, he knew their medical history and the risks an unnecessary vaccine could mean to them personally. And as a Christian, he was concerned about what he lets his kids put into their bodies, which he believes to be temples of God. Mostly, he just wanted to keep them safe.
But he also knew that a recently enacted DC law would let his 11-year-old son consent to a vaccine without his consent or even his knowledge. There is a clinic in his son’s school that would administer the shot. And there was pressure from every direction—teachers, counselors, and peers—driving the young man to go along with everyone else.
It would now fall to the boy, without his father’s help or support, to stand up to the pressure—or to cave to it—regardless of what might be best for his conscience or his health.
And it should never have been like this.
“The liberty interest at issue in this case—the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children—is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court” [emphasis added].
So said the US Supreme Court in its 2000 decision, Troxel v. Granville. The Court then spent several paragraphs discussing all the cases establishing parental rights as a fundamental right, from Meyer v. Nebraska in 1923, to Pierce v. Society of Sisters in 1925, to Wisconsin v. Yoder in 1972, and concluded: “In light of this extensive precedent, it cannot now be doubted that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children” [emphasis added].
That is the strong legal foundation that has long been the norm in our nation. So, what would happen with bureaucrats now trampling that foundation?
This is what Victor was facing in our nation’s capital, the District of Columbia. In late 2020, the DC Council approved a law allowing children as young as eleven to consent to vaccination without their parent’s knowledge or consent. What’s more, the law prohibits medical providers, school personnel, and even insurance companies from letting the parents know the child received a vaccine.
This law was called the Minor Consent for Vaccinations Act Amendment of 2020 (“Minor Consent Act”). And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or a lawyer) to know that DC’s law violates the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care of their children: in consultation with their trusted pediatrician, some parents will choose vaccines, and others will wait, or choose to skip certain vaccines, or even all of them. And that is their God-given right, protected by our Constitution. DC’s Minor Consent Act sought to replace parents with bureaucrats pressuring children behind their parent’s backs. We had to act to defend families.
And in a tremendous win for parents and children and for the rule of law, on Friday, March 18, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued a preliminary injunction against DC’s Minor Consent Act.
US district court judge Trever McFadden was assigned to our case, and his careful analysis in the preliminary injunction will have ramifications across the nation.
We want to tell you about this case because it sums up the work that we are doing across the nation to protect the fundamental right of parents to direct the care of their children. We know that other states (most notably California) are considering similar laws, and with our preliminary injunction in hand, and with your financial support, we will see those states in federal court if they dare to come between parents and their children.
On behalf of our client Victor Booth and other parents, we argued (in part) that DC’s Minor Consent Act violates the right of parents to make medical decisions for their own children, and that it violates Victor’s freedom of religion by creating different rules against parents who have a religious exemption than against parents with a medical exemption for their child.
Rolf Hazlehurst with Children’s Health Defense served as our co-counsel and argued the case because the judge had indicated his interest in whether the DC law had been preempted by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, an area of law in which Hazlehurst is an expert.
“I learned about the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 the hard way when my son suffered a severe brain injury as a result of vaccine injury,” Hazlehurst told us. “Hazlehurst v. HHS was the second test case in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding and was at the center of Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, the US Supreme Court case that interpreted the NCVIA to grant vaccine manufactures immunity from liability.”
“DC’s ordinance required doctors to deceive parents,” said Parental Rights Foundation Chairman Jim Mason, who was our lead counsel in the case for the Booth family. “This decision says that’s not okay.”
Jim Mason was referring to this line in Judge McFadden’s decision:
“[T]he MCA [Minor Consent Act] encourages children to deceive their parents. Once a child has gone behind her parents’ backs to get a vaccine, what is she supposed to do if she has a negative reaction? Some children might tell their parents; others very well might be afraid and try to hide their actions.”
The preliminary injunction halts the District of Columbia from carrying out the law until the lawsuit can be heard and concluded. To grant a preliminary injunction, the court had to find that Victor Booth and the other parents had standing and that they showed “a likelihood of success on the merits.” (That is, our arguments have a decent chance of winning.)
“The district court saw through the fiction that children as young as 11 were ‘mature’ enough to make their own medical decisions,” Jim Mason told me later.
When Judge McFadden issued the preliminary injunction against DC, it sent a powerful signal. Not only has the law been halted, thereby protecting countless children in DC from making uninformed medical decisions without the benefit of their parent’s knowledge, wisdom, and experience, but also it demonstrates that, in the court’s judgment, our clients have at least a good chance of winning when the lawsuit is decided.
It is not a guarantee, but it is a very good sign. You see, winning a preliminary injunction at this stage sends a clear message across the nation. We’re incredibly excited for our clients and for children being protected in the District of Columbia. But we also know that legislators in several other states are trying to pass their own versions of this legislation. This ruling sends a clear message that the Parental Rights Foundation and our allies will not stand idly by as parental rights are stripped away. If any other state tries to do an end run around parents like the DC Council did, the Parental Rights Foundation and our allies will see them in court. And we will win.
We’re looking at you, California. You see, California’s Senate Bill 866, championed by California state senators Scott Wiener and Richard Pan, would allow children as young as 12 to grant legally binding consent to vaccination without the benefit of parental guidance. As of the writing of this letter, S.B. 866 is currently pending before the California Senate’s Judiciary Committee. And we know that several other states are considering similar legislation.
But we need your help. We will not be able to fulfill that promise to “see them in court” without your continued support. Could you take a moment right now to make your most generous gift to the Parental Rights Foundation to support this ongoing effort?
While the preliminary injunction against DC’s Minor Consent Act is promising news, and while it provides us with a powerful legal argument against similar laws across the nation, it is not the final court decision. That will come only after additional briefings and, likely, additional oral arguments.
The final ruling could take months—which is one of the reasons for an injunction in the first place. You see, if we had not received the preliminary injunction, children in our nation’s capital would still be in danger of harm without their parents’ knowledge and protection. And our nation’s constitutional guarantee that parents—not bureaucrats—direct the care of children would have been threatened.
With your support, we will meet the additional challenges that lie ahead in winning this lawsuit, and we will prepare to make similar stands in California or wherever else this threat to children arises.
Can I count on you today to chip in $15, $55, or even $155 to protect children like those in DC and California from being robbed of their parents’ protections under the law?
Thank you for standing with us in this effort to protect children by preserving the protective parental role. We celebrate this preliminary injunction victory together, knowing we could not have done it without you.
And together we look forward to many more wins in the future!
William A. Estrada, Esq.
Parental Rights Foundation
PS—While we are excited about this victory in winning a preliminary injunction to halt DC’s law and protect children like Victor Booths’ sons, we know there are still many challenges ahead. We celebrate, but other families are counting on us to keep the victories coming. Will you take a moment today to invest in the next victory, and the one after that? We can only keep fighting—and keep winning!—with your continued support.