Religious challenges to New York vaccine mandate fail in court
The Supreme Court rejected two requests to block the state’s requirement for all healthcare workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The mandate allows medical exemptions but not religious ones. Doctors, nurses, and medical workers say the policy forces them to choose between their profession and their faith. A U.S. District judge in New York initially stopped the mandate from taking effect while the lawsuits played out, but the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated it. As is typical with dismissed appeals, the Supreme Court did not explain its reasoning for rejecting this one.
Why aren’t religious exemptions included? Some healthcare workers said they could not support COVID-19 vaccines over concerns they were developed or tested with cell lines from aborted babies. New York Attorney General Letitia James said the cell lines are generations removed from the original samples collected in 1973. The state said the same lines are used for measles and rubella vaccines. Justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito dissented. “Pandemics often produce demanding new social rules aimed at protecting collective interests—and with those rules can come fear and anger at individuals unable to conform for religious reasons,” Gorsuch wrote.
Dig deeper: Read Steve West’s report in Liberties about a lower court’s ruling in favor of religious healthcare workers in New York.
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