A good-government group is threatening to sue Oregon Gov. Kate Brown if she moves forward with her planned implementation of a vaccine verification system—commonly called a vaccine passport system—for residents of the state to enter a business without wearing a face mask.
The passport can be digital, such as a smartphone app, or physical, such as a small paper card. Government officials and businesses can demand to see it before allowing an individual to go into an office; board an airplane; or visit a restaurant, movie theater, or health club.
The policy to create a framework for enforcing vaccine passports was outlined by the Oregon Health Authority on May 18 in a document titled “Interim Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals,” which states, among other things, that “a business, employer, or faith institution that has a policy requesting and checking for proof of vaccination and requests and reviews proof of vaccination may permit fully vaccinated individuals with proof of vaccination to go without a mask, face covering, or face shield, and does not need to enforce physical distancing requirements for such individuals.”
The Freedom Foundation sent a letter to Brown, a Democrat, arguing that the guidance runs afoul of the right to be free from compelled speech and association guaranteed by the First Amendment, the right to informational privacy guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, and the right to equal protection under the law, also guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.
Formerly known as the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, the organization describes itself as a “nonprofit think and action tank with offices in Washington, Oregon, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California.”
Although the state “has a legitimate interest in slowing COVID-19’s spread throughout the community, preventing new infections, and, ultimately in increasing the number of persons who become fully vaccinated,” Brown’s vaccine passport mandate “fails to promote the government’s interests,” wrote Rebekah Millard, Oregon counsel for the Freedom Foundation.
“It should also be noted that neither the Federal Government nor any other U.S. State has enacted a mandate of the Vaccine ID Mandate’s scope. Oregon stands alone in choosing to ignore individual rights in this way. The State of Oregon has not produced any evidence that ties the Vaccine ID Mandate to the desired outcome, nor is it likely to be able to do so.
“Both common sense and experience teach that getting back to a semblance of normalcy is the best motivator for people to take the vaccine. In sum, the Vaccine ID Mandate does incalculable harm to individuals and businesses within the State of Oregon without furthering the goal of defeating COVID-19.”
Republicans in Oregon’s House of Representatives also want Brown to drop the plan, according to TV station KGW8.
“My constituents really want the governor to allow the honor system,” state House Republican Leader Rep. Christine Drazen said.
She sent Brown a letter taking issue with mandating proof of vaccination, stating it “is counter to White House recommendations, counter to what ACLU is recommending, counter to the CDC. It’s not in line with Washington or California. We’re really going our own way on this one and we really shouldn’t.”
Jason Dudash, Oregon director of the Freedom Foundation, criticized Brown.
“The fact that the Governor has not yet rescinded the order is laughable,” he said in a statement.
“At every step through this pandemic, Gov. Brown has showcased her disdain and her distrust of Oregonians. She needs to recognize individuals from every walk of life have made immense sacrifices over the last year to get through the pandemic. The Freedom Foundation trusts Oregonians to make good decisions and will continue to fight the Governor’s heavy-handed and regressive policymaking”.
The Epoch Times reached out to Brown’s office for a comment on Memorial Day weekend but didn’t receive a reply by press time.