2critical aspect of the
, known as
(“MBP”), attempting to conscript theindividuals who perform this religious procedure (known as “
”) into advocates for Defendants’ ill-founded opposition to the practice. In the absence of
definitive proof thatMBP poses health risks of any kind, and in the face of a millenia-long track record for safety, theregulation would require the
to transmit the Department’s subjective opinion that MBP“should not be performed.” That opinion is based on limited study, inaccurate assumptions, anddeficient data, all of which remain actively debated within medical and scientific communities.
This lawsuit is a challenge to the constitutional validity of Defendants’ novel—and,indeed, unprecedented—regulation, under the First Amendment to the United States Constitutionand the Free Exercise Clause of the New York Constitution. In particular, by forcing
totransmit to parents an inherently subjective and value-laden judgment about whether to adhere tothe religious dictate of MBP, the regulation violates the basic constitutional principle that thegovernment cannot compel speech. Under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, theDepartment simply cannot force dissenting individuals to undermine the tenets of their faith anddiscourage compliance with religious law by transmitting Defendants’ opinion. Moreover, bysingling out for unique burdens a practice that is motivated exclusively by religious belief, andrequiring its practitioners to advise against those beliefs, the regulation also violates the FreeExercise Clauses of the Federal and New York Constitutions.
Accordingly, Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment that § 181.21 of the New York City Health Code is unconstitutional, and injunctive relief barring its enforcement.
JURISDICTION, VENUE, AND OTHER PRELIMINARY MATTERS
Because this action arises under the Constitution (
, the First Amendment) andlaws (
, 42 U.S.C. § 1983) of the United States, this Court has jurisdiction pursuant to thefederal-question jurisdiction statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Case 1:12-cv-07590-NRB Document 1 Filed 10/11/12 Page 2 of 14