The Montana Supreme Court on Wednesday echoed a state district court’s decision not to block a state law that bans vaccination mandates in most workplaces.
However, in the majority opinion of a five-judge panel, authored by Chief Justice Mike McGrath, the Supreme Court overturned part of the lower court’s order. The district court must reconsider whether House Bill 702 violated the constitutional requirement that the titles of the bill reflect the subject covered by the legislation.
The law prohibits discrimination based on vaccination status. It subjects companies, government agencies and other workplaces to human rights complaints when they deny someone employment or access to goods or services because they are vaccinated.
The law contains some exceptions for schools and care facilities. Another case challenging the law in federal court has also resulted in an injunction temporarily preventing the state from enforcing it against most healthcare providers.
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Otherwise, the Supreme Court upheld the February order of Richland County District Court Judge Olivia Rieger. In it, she denied the Sydney-based law firm Netzer’s request to block the law while the constitutional merits are decided, writing that it did not pose an immediate threat to the plaintiff’s right to a “clean and sane environment” under the Montana Constitution represent.
The court agreed with Rieger’s finding that the law “does not prevent employers from taking other significant and effective measures to maintain a clean and healthy environment in their office.”
The order was signed by Justices Laurie McKinnon, Ingrid Gustafson, Beth Baker and Jim Rice.
“We conclude that the court’s reasoning was not unreasonable or arbitrary or that it resulted in a material injustice,” McGrath wrote, “and therefore the court did not manifestly abuse its discretion by denying an injunctive relief before the.” final decision has been made.”
The other federal court case went to trial in Missoula last month. US District Court Judge Donald Molloy has yet to issue a ruling in the case.