Supreme Court won't hear challenge to New York COVID-19 vaccination mandate

The Supreme Court on June 30 decided it would not hear a challenge to New York's COVID-19 vaccination mandate for healthcare workers that does not include a religious exemption, according to The Washington Post.

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

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 However, religious exemptions to the state mandate were rescinded in November.

In December, the Supreme Court declined an emergency request by healthcare workers to block the mandate, without writing an opinion, The Washington Post reported.  

Most recently, the merits of the case were before the nation's highest court instead of the previously presented and largely procedural issues, according to USA Today. Ultimately, justices denied the workers' appeal, with Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito dissenting.

"The New York mandate includes a medical exemption but no religious exemption, even though 'allowing a healthcare worker to remain unvaccinated undermines the state's asserted public health goals equally whether that worker happens to remain unvaccinated for religious reasons or medical ones,'" Mr. Thomas wrote, according to USA Today. "The court could give much-needed guidance by simply deciding whether that single secular exemption renders the state law not neutral and generally applicable."

The Supreme Court also previously rejected a challenge to Maine's vaccination mandate for healthcare workers.

 

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