Legal Media Analysts

Monday, December 13, 2021

Supreme Court Denies Healthcare Workers' Injunction Request on Vaccinate Mandate

The Supreme Court denied an injunctive request by healthcare workers who were required, by regulation, to be vaccinated over dissents by Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, and Alito who said the mandate violated The Free Exercise Clause. 

The basis of the request was that the regulation included exemptions for medical reasons, but not for sincere religious beliefs. According to the 20 workers seeking the injunction, "their religion teaches them to oppose abortion in any form, and because each of the currently available vaccines has depended upon abortion-derived fetal cell lines in its production or testing." 

According to New York State, the reason that no religious exemption existed was because no "sanctioned religious exemption from any organized religion" existed and in fact, religions were "encouraging the opposite." 

Interestingly, the Gorsuch dissent explains that his views on a religious exemption aren't absolute. Instead, he explains that "a State might argue, for example, that it has a compelling interest in achieving herd immunity against certain diseases in a population. It might further contend the most narrowly tailored means to achieve that interest is to restrict vaccine exemptions to a particular number divided in a nondiscriminatory manner between medical and religious objectors. With sufficient evidence to support claims like these, the State might prevail." As such, his main issue is allowing for medical related exemptions and not religious exemptions violates The Free Exercise Clause. 

Regardless, the vaccine mandate may be enforced in the healthcare setting moving forward throughout NYS.  As background, the Second Circuit had previously denied the injunction and also permitted the mandate to be enforced.


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