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West Virginia Attorney General explains opinion on vaccines

Vaccine vial and syringe.
Vaccine vial and syringe.
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 6:33 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - An opinion released September 10 says vaccine mandates and vaccine passport requirements may offend what West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says are constitutional interests in personal medical decision-making, the constitutional right to religious freedom and other individual rights.

Here is a link to the full opinion: https://bit.ly/3txNCe2.

In an interview we conducted with Morrisey Wednesday, the attorney general said the concept of “herd immunity” advocated by medical professionals is more like “herd mentality”, especially when it comes to vaccine requirements by business and health care organizations.

“We know the differences, and we want to persuade people on the private side and others to do the right thing and to use their tools,” Morrisey said, “and not just try to be heavy handed.”

We asked: Is individual freedom a bigger issue than individual health?

“We have to get rid of the virus, and public health matters an awful lot,” Morrisey said, “but you can’t ignore your constitution and the rule of law, just because you’re trying to achieve a goal. You have to structure solutions that work for the republic and the constitution.”

Both Morrisey and Wood County Republican Delegate Roger Conley are COVID survivors who also have been fully vaccinated. Conley has drafted legislation barring the issuing of mandates for both vaccines and masks, a bill which, if passed, could be wide-ranging for entities who already have issued vaccine and mask requirements. Conley has run, and recently owned, Conley Manufacturing, a small manufacturing company located between Parkersburg and Mineral Wells.

“A business does not want a public entity telling it what to do,” Conley said Wednesday. “But as I think about that, my employees also have rights. And without those employees, I have no business.”

Morrisey says he also plans to fight President Joe Biden’s recent vaccine requirements for businesses and other groups, a move the Associated Press reports could affect 100 million people.

”Biden has done a lot of problematic things in his term,” Morrisey said in our interview, “but this vaccine mandate, I think, possesses so little legal authority that he’s likely to lose in court, and we’re going to go to court as soon as these rules are finalized, and we’re going to stop him.”

While West Virginia Democrats and some Republicans are opposed to efforts by lawmakers to bar mandates, Conley continues to push for a special legislative session to pass his proposed bills.

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