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Political Litigation

Washington State Republicans File Lawsuit Against House Vaccination Rules

— November 28, 2021

A half-dozen conservative state-level legislators have called the vaccine requirement “tyrannical,” claiming it interferes with their ability to meet constituents and participate in congressional proceedings.

A half-dozen Washington state representatives have filed a lawsuit against the House Executive Rules Committee over planned coronavirus safety measures.

According to The Daily News, the lawsuit was filed by Washington state Reps. Jim Walsh, Robert Sutherland, Rob Chase, Virginia Graham, Bob McCaslin, and Jessie Young.

All of the representatives are Republicans.

The lawsuit also names another six plaintiffs, identified by The Daily News as Washington residents and voters.

In their complaint, the representatives allege that their decision not to receive coronavirus vaccinations will limit their access to certain parts of the Washington state capitol building. Furthermore, they claim that that such restrictions will make it more difficult to meet constituents in the Capitol.

The 2022 House Operations Rules, writes, requires that all state representatives show proof of vaccination—or a negative coronavirus test—in order to access legislative offices and conference rooms during the next legislative session.

A woman wearing an N95-style mask. Image via Pexels. Public domain.

Beyond being shut out of their own offices, the Operations Rules will restrict the House floor to vaccinated representatives; any representative who is not vaccinated will have to vote and participate in proceedings remotely.

“The Plans appear to be an underhanded method used by a few tyrannical members to impose Governor Inslee’s mandate on a legislative body specifically exempt from the mandate,” the lawsuit states.

Somewhat ironically, the lawsuit refers to representatives who have yet to be inoculated as “undocumented legislators.”

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs say that the Operations Rules “interfere with the undocumented Representatives’ right to participate equally in the political process.”

House Democrats, however, have been quick to brand the lawsuit as a cheap attempt to garner media attention and stir up the conservative electorate.

House Speaker Laurie Jenkins, a Democrat representing Tacoma, said that the Operations Rules will not really affect “undocumented Legislators’” ability to meet with constituents.

“Once again, certain members of the House Republican Caucus are choosing to engage in performative stunts for media attention rather than modeling public health best practices to keep fellow lawmakers, legislative staff, and the public safe from a highly contagious virus,” Jinkins said in a statement. “The House operations plans allow all members to fully represent their constituents and fulfill the duties of their office in the midst of an ongoing pandemic.”

The lawsuit, adds The Daily News, seeks an injunction to prevent the coronavirus-control measures from taking effect at the beginning of the next legislative session, slated to begin January 10th.


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