Supreme Court declines to block New York COVID-19 vaccination mandate for healthcare workers

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a request from healthcare workers to block enforcement of New York's COVID-19 vaccination mandate based on their religious objections, according to court documents. 

New York announced a vaccination requirement for healthcare workers in August. The mandate allows exemptions for medical reasons. However, religious exemptions to the state mandate were rescinded in November.

The Supreme Court was responding to challenges brought by physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers, who argued that New York officials violated constitutional protections for religious exercise.

The six-justice majority declined the emergency request to block the mandate without writing an opinion, The Washington Post and NPR reported. Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito said they would have supported pausing enforcement of the mandate. 

"Sometimes dissenting religious beliefs can seem strange and bewildering. In times of crisis, this puzzlement can evolve into fear and anger," Mr. Gorsuch wrote in a 14-page dissent to the decision denying the application for injunctive relief. 

"One can only hope today's ruling will not be the final chapter in this grim story," he continued. "Cases like this one may serve as cautionary tales for those who follow. But how many more reminders do we need that 'the Constitution is not to be obeyed or disobeyed as the circumstances of a particular crisis ... may suggest'?"

The Supreme Court also declined a similar request from healthcare workers in Maine to block that state's mandate. 

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