(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected challenges from a group of Christian doctors and nurses and an organization that promotes vaccine skepticism against New York's refusal to allow religious exemptions from the state's mandate that health care workers be vaccinated against Covid-19.  Judges in two cases dismissed emergencies for an injunction requiring the state to allow religious exemptions while litigation over the legality of the mandate continues in lower courts. Conservative judges Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch ruled in favor of the injunction. New York challengers said the mandate violates the U.S. Constitution's first supplementary ban on religious discrimination against the government, or a federal civil rights law that requires employers to reasonably comply with employees' religious beliefs. A lower court rejected their bid for an injunction.
On August 26, the New York State Department of Health ordered medical personnel who come in contact with patients or other staff to be vaccinated by September 27. That deadline was delayed until November.
The state has stated that according to the policy, employers can consider religious housing requests and employees can be reassigned to jobs as telework.
The state said it allows a narrow medical exemption for the small number of people with a severe allergic reaction to covid- 19 vaccines. It said that long-term care staff's vaccination mandate against measles and rubella also has no religious exceptions.
A lawsuit was filed by a group of 17 doctors, nurses and other caregivers, most of whom are Catholics, who sued under pseudonyms, condemning "medical dictatorship". Sixteen said they were fired or suspended under the policy, while a nurse agreed to be vaccinated to keep her job.
In a dissent in that case, Judge Gorsuch said the mandate seemed based on "nothing but fear and anger. against those who hold unpopular religious beliefs. " Together with Judge Alito, Judge Gorsuch reprimanded the court for failing to protect the challengers, saying that "it is always the failure to defend the promises of the Constitution that leads to the greatest remorse of this court."
who are members of We the Patriots USA, a Connecticut-based group that is also a plaintiff.The group opposes vaccine mandates and advocates various causes, including what it called "medical freedom."
Festa: "We fought against vaccine mandates. We fought to reveal the truth about what's in these images, long before covid was even a thing. ”
These plaintiffs are represented by Norman Pattis, a lawyer known for defending conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, founder of the right-wing website Infowars, against defamation proceedings. after he incorrectly called a school shooting in Connecticut 2012 a "scam."
According to government data, about 84% of American adults have received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine and 72% are fully vaccinated.