NORTH SHORE, N.J. — What if you get infected with gonorrheal disease in the United States and you have to go back to the country you came from?
That’s what the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey is asking for in a legal challenge to New Jersey’s new mandatory test requirements.
The group is asking the U,S.
District Court for the Northern District of New York to throw out the mandatory tests, saying they violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of due process.
“We are asking the court to invalidate the new testing requirements and hold the government accountable for the harm that the tests cause,” said ACLU of New Brunswick legal director Rachel Gifford.
“It is our hope that this court will uphold our First Amendment rights, and that the courts will use its resources to protect New Jerseyans from these mandatory tests.”
The state is currently in the midst of a public health emergency due to the spread of gonorrha, a virus that can be transmitted through sex.
New Jersey already has a mandatory test program for those who have traveled overseas and tested positive for the disease.
The ACLU lawsuit alleges that the new requirements violate the Fifth Amendment’s ban on self-incrimination.
“These tests impose an unnecessary burden on New Jersey residents,” said Giffor.
“If they are required to answer questions, that burden on a citizen’s right to remain silent would be even greater.”
The lawsuit claims that the New Jersey Department of Health, under Gov.
Chris Christie, has been using the federal government’s National Health Security Center for the tests.
The department has been under fire for not meeting the state’s requirements to get federal funding for the testing program, and the ACLU says it has not responded to requests for comment.
Christie, who has repeatedly said the state is not violating the constitutional rights of residents who are tested for the virus, defended the tests, telling reporters in December that the testing is necessary because “we know we are not getting a good test result.”