COVID Quarantine Mandate Overturned By Trial Court

An oppressive and unnecessary state regulation put forth by the Hochul administration earlier this year has been held unconstitutional in state court.

Known as Rule 2.13, the regulation empowered the New York State Health Commissioner to order New Yorkers to be quarantined “‘whenever appropriate to control the spread of a highly contagious communicable disease.’” Rule 2.13 was adopted on an emergency basis in February 2022. Supreme Court Justice Ronald Ploetz held that the rule failed to provide a constitutionally required level of due process. Judge Ploetz correctly noted that Rule 2.13 allowed the Health Commissioner to order New Yorkers to be quarantined even if there was no proof that they were actually infected with a communicable disease. Specifically, as New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms noted in our public comment opposing Rule 2.13, the rule gave “state and local health officials the authority to order law-abiding New Yorkers to move out of their homes into congregate quarantine locations simply because they have been exposed to a highly contagious communicable disease.” Furthermore, the rule failed to provide any limits on the duration of isolation and quarantine orders, could have allowed parents and children to be quarantined separately, and failed to require health authorities to notify a quarantined person’s family that he or she had been quarantined.

The lawsuit challenging Rule 2.13 was filed by State Sen. George Borrello (R-Sunset Bay) and State Asms. Chris Tague (R-Schoharie) and Michael Lawler (R-Pearl River), as well as the organization Uniting NYS. Sen. Borrello commented, “‘Reluctant to relinquish the unrivaled authority that accompanied New York’s [COVID-19] “state of emergency,” the governor sought to improperly use the agency rulemaking process as another conduit for unilateral control. If we allowed that to occur unchallenged, it would be inviting further violations of the constitutional separation of powers.’”

The court’s ruling is being appealed by New York Attorney General Letitia James. New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms urges the Appellate Division to reject this appeal and protect New Yorkers from unreasonable government infringement upon their freedom of movement. We also thank Sen. Borrello and Asms. Tague and Lawler for courageously standing up to the Hochul administration.