Court Upholds Hochul’s Involuntary Quarantine Rule

A recent decision from a New York appellate court is a setback for individual liberty and for freedom from executive overreach.

According to the Albany Times Union, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department upheld a Hochul administration rule (10 NYCRR 2.13, also known as Rule 2.13) that authorizes the New York State Department of Health to isolate or quarantine New Yorkers who have been exposed to contagious diseases like COVID-19. The rule would allow New Yorkers to be quarantined even if they have not actually been infected with an infectious disease. The Appellate Division held that the three petitioners in the case—Rep. Mike Lawler, Sen. George Borrello, and Asm. Chris Tague—had no right to sue because they had not demonstrated that their legislative power had been usurped.

Last summer, Judge Ronald Ploetz had ruled in the petitioners’ favor, holding that Rule 2.13 failed to provide due process as required by the New York State Constitution. Judge Ploetz took issue with the fact that Rule 2.13 gave the Commissioner of the Department of Health “‘unfettered discretion to issue a quarantine or isolation for anyone, even if there is no evidence that person is infected or a carrier of the disease.’” Judge Ploetz further stated that involuntary detention “‘is a severe deprivation of individual liberty, far more egregious than other health safety measures.’”

Responding to the Appellate Division decision in a Facebook post, Sen. George Borrello wrote: “The Appellate Court’s decision to dismiss our lawsuit by ruling that we, as petitioners, lack ‘standing’ to bring the case is outrageous. If legislators—claiming their power has been usurped by the executive—lack standing to sue in a separation-of-powers case, then who would qualify? This ruling was simply a dodge to avoid having to address the true merits of the case, which were upheld by Judge Ploetz in his well-reasoned and supported ruling. We will continue this fight on behalf of New Yorkers and against tyranny.”

The petitioners intend to appeal the Appellate Division’s decision.

New York Public Health Law § 2120 persons with communicable diseases who are a “menace to others” to be quarantined following notice and a hearing. However, it is unacceptable and unlawful for the government to claim that it has the authority to quarantine individuals who have been exposed to communicable diseases when they may or may not have actually contracted them.

This article was updated on November 29, 2023.

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