Federal hearing expected Thursday to discuss city vaccine mandate lawsuits

Charleston County News

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – More than a dozen North Charleston city employees, including some first responders, are suing the city over its vaccine mandate.

A hearing will be held Thursday at the federal courthouse in downtown Charleston.

Attorneys on the case say hundreds of people are reaching out to have their names added to the lawsuit.

The mandate requires all City of North Charleston employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 5, 2021.

A group of first responders and more than a dozen city employees who are suing the city say the requirement goes against their “individual rights.”

North Charleston is just one of four vaccine mandate lawsuits merged for Thursday’s hearing. Lawsuits were also filed against the City of Charleston, Charleston County, St. John Fire Department over similar mandates.

Tom Winslow, an attorney for the group, says the mandate violates the state and U.S. Constitution, along with state common law.

“In our constitution, there is a God-given right, not a government-given right. So, for a government to come in and say I’m going to take away that right means that they believe they have a right to the rights that are yours, that is given to you by God and your individuality,” he said.

First responders listed on the lawsuit say they know firsthand about public safety.

According to North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, “public safety and health are of the highest importance for the city,” and that is why he feels the mandate is necessary amid the pandemic.

“These vaccines provide protection against infection and, even when post-vaccination infection occurs, they provide demonstrated protection,” he said.

Thursday’s hearing is scheduled to begin at noon and will be live-streamed at counton2.com. The hearing is open to the public.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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