|TSCA Status Hearing This Monday REMINDER: the next status hearing for our federal lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the harm to the developing brain caused by fluoridation is scheduled for 9 a.m. (U.S. Pacific time) on Monday, December 4th. Watch the hearing live on Zoom:
Webinar ID: 161 991 1861
Password: 912881 Please note that our status hearing has been scheduled alongside hearings for several other cases. This means that when you login to view the proceedings, you may have to wait as other cases on the docket are dealt with first. I expect the focus of tomorrow’s hearing to be on the court’s new guidelines regulating live streaming of audio and video to the public and virtual testimony from witnesses. In short, we’ll learn if the public will be able to watch the final phase of the trial live on Zoom, like we did during the first phase in 2020, or if public participation will be restricted only to those who are physically in the San Francisco courtroom. The federal act (CARES Act) that allowed for live streaming of federal court proceedings has expired. At the last status hearing, the judge said that he expected to have new guidance on live streaming from the Judicial Conference, which sets policy for federal courts, by tomorrow’s hearing. The judge has said that he feels “the public has an interest” in this case and should be able to watch. He offered another option in case live streaming was not permitted, suggesting that the court take advantage of their pilot program called Cameras in the Courtroom to record the trial and post the video content to their website. The start date for the last phase of the trial will be Wednesday, January 31st, 2024. The court has scheduled our trial to go through Wednesday, February 14th, though attorneys for FAN and the EPA acknowledged that they may not need to use all of those days. If you are unable to watch or listen to tomorrow’s hearing, don’t worry. I’ll be providing an overview of the proceedings in a follow-up bulletin tomorrow, which will also be posted on our social media. If a recording of the hearing is made available by the court at some point in the future, we’ll also share that with you as soon as it’s posted.
Everyone here at FAN is feeling incredibly confident and excited to start the final phase of the trial in less than 60 days. We truly appreciate your constant support throughout this 8+ year process. Thank you for standing with us in our pursuit of justice and safe drinking water. Major Legal Development in New Zealand BIG NEWS! A High Court decision in New Zealand has found that the Director General of Health’s recent orders mandating fluoridation for 14 water systems serving 19 communities are unlawful because he failed to consider the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act (BORA). The ruling emerged from a judicial review by New Health New Zealand, a Christchurch-based natural health organization. The full judgment can be found here: 2023-NZHC-3183.pdf (courtsofnz.govt.nz). A 2018 ruling by the New Zealand Supreme Court, defining fluoridation as compulsory medical treatment in violation of Section 11 of the NZ Bill of Rights Act, has now gained additional weight with this recent High Court judgment. Any future attempts by councils to fluoridate their community’s water must now be justified under Section 5 of BORA, necessitating a thorough justification for violating the fundamental right not to be subjected to forced medical treatment. The ruling also means that the Director General’s fluoridation orders could be set aside or returned to the Ministry of Health for reconsideration before a substantive hearing on the broader issue next year. According to Fluoride Free NZ, “This makes the inappropriate back-door mandatory fluoridation of New Zealand far less likely to succeed.” The 14 councils were given a deadline to start fluoridating and would be subject to hefty fines should they fail to comply. The deadlines ranged between 2023 and 2026. A further 27 councils were told they were being considered for fluoridation directives. Councils that chose not to comply faced an initial $200,000 fine for not fluoridating and further fines of $10,000 a day.
Communities are already responding to the ruling. Whangarei District Councilors and Rotorua Lakes Council have both paused their plans to implement fluoridation. Though some councils, like Western Bay of Plenty and Nelson have said they will push forward with fluoridation while they seek clarification on the ruling from the Ministry of Health.
|Thank you, Stuart CooperExecutive DirectorFluoride Action Network