New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s quarantine camp regulation that would allow the seizure and indefinite detention of anyone suspected of exposure to a communicable disease was restored on Friday by a decision of the New York Appellate Division’s Fourth Judicial Department. The Appellate Division overturned a lower Court’s decision issued last July by Judge Ronald Ploetz who had voided the Governor’s rule.
The Appellate Division panel of judges asserted that the plaintiffs, several current and former New York State legislators and a citizen’s group, did not have legal standing to sue the State, arguing that none of the plaintiffs had sustained personal injury as a result of the regulation.
The panel dodged the substantive Constitutional issues raised by the plaintiffs and affirmed by the lower court. Hochul’s regulation radically diverges from the written letter of the law regarding quarantines to such an extent that the plaintiffs argued that the regulation amounts to any entirely new law imposed by the Governor without action by the legislature.
Hochul’s regulation would allow public health officers to arrest people suspected of having been exposed to a communicable disease, which in the age of COVID means everybody at anytime, with no need for proof of infection, no hearing, no magistrate, and no legal counsel for the accused, no due process, all explicitly required by the quarantine law. The accused could be held for an indefinite period at the health department’s discretion contrary to the law’s requirement that quarantine can only last as long as a person is actively infectious. In the original trial before Judge Ploetz, counsel for the State admitted that once arrested there is no mechanism under the regulation to compel the state to release a detained person other than the detained person hiring a lawyer and suing the state.
Bobbie Anne Cox, attorney for the plaintiffs, has already announced that she will file an appeal with the New York Court of Appeals, the State’s highest court. See her statement on the new court decision here.