The Montana Supreme Court has refused to grant an injunction to a law that currently bans vaccination requirements in most of the state’s workplaces.
Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision agrees with the Seventh Circuit Court, a lower court, which in February denied a motion by the law firm Netzer to block the law pending a decision on its constitutional merits.
Chief Justice Mike McGrath wrote on Wednesday in the unanimous opinion of the five-judge panel: “We are closing the [lower] The court’s reasoning was not unreasonable, arbitrary, or resulted in a material injustice, and therefore the court did not manifestly abuse its discretion by refusing provisional injunctive relief pending a final determination on the merits.
The law, passed during the 2021 legislative session, made it unlawful for any government agency or company to discriminate based on the person’s immunization status in the provision of services, goods, privileges, educational opportunities, access to health care, or employment opportunities. It applies to all vaccinations.
Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed the measure after it passed the Republican-dominated legislature. It was commonly referred to as HB 702 (pdf) and was the first of its kind in the country. Most of the legislation came into force in May 2021, while a remaining section came into force in July 2021.
The law included an exemption for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in the event the federal government threatened to remove Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements.
Donald L. Netzer, an associate and controlling shareholder of the Netzer law firm, had “attempted to obtain the ability to enforce a vaccination order for current and prospective employees” in October 2021 by filing a motion to have HB 702 suspended.
“Netzer alleged that the law violated several of his fundamental rights as set forth in the Montana Constitution,” McGrath noted in Wednesday’s statement. In response to Netzer’s lawsuit, on November 15, 2021, the Montana state government moved to dismiss the case.
The Montana Supreme Court, in its most recent decision Wednesday, dismissed a small portion of the Seventh Circuit Court’s order, asking it to reconsider whether HB 702 “contained only a subject that is clearly expressed in its title,” as it says stipulated by the Montana Constitution.