Supreme Court Rules Against New York Healthcare Workers Seeking Religious Exemptions


Source: (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)


By Katie Pavlich

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 Monday afternoon against New York healthcare workers seeking religious exemptions to Wuhan coronavirus vaccine mandates in the state.

When former Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo issued the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers earlier this year, religious exemptions were included. When Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul replaced Cuomo in August, she eliminated the exemption from the mandate.

“New York recently issued a regulation requiring healthcare workers to receive a COVID–19 vaccine. Those who cite medical reasons are exempt. But no comparable exemption exists for individuals whose sincere religious be- liefs prevent them from taking one of the currently available vaccines. It seems New York is one of just three States to have a scheme like this. And it seems originally even New York was headed in a different direction,” Justice Neil Gorush wrote in the dissent.

“When it announced the mandate, the then-Governor promised a reli- gious exemption. Weeks later, the State backtracked. It offered no scientific evidence, or even a written explanation, for the decision. But a new Governor who assumed office around the same time spoke about it. The new Governor announced that the decision to eliminate the exemption was ‘intentiona[l]’ and justified because no ‘organized religion’ sought it and individuals who did were not ‘listening to God and what God wants.’ Now, thousands of New York healthcare workers face the loss of their jobs and eligibility for unemployment benefits,” Gorsuch continued. “Twenty of them have filed suit arguing that the State’s conduct violates the First Amend- ment and asking us to enjoin the enforcement of the man- date against them until this Court can decide their petition for certiorari. Respectfully, I believe they deserve that relief.”

In November a federal judge in Georgia issued a nationwide injunction against President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal healthcare workers and contractors.