Thomas More Law Center at the United States Supreme Court: Stop the Governor of New York from dictating what religious beliefs are allowed | national news


ANN ARBOUR, Mich. — The Thomas More Law Center, a national, nonprofit public interest law firm, filed a brief last week in the U.S. Supreme Court opposing New York’s vaccination mandate for health workers. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, these healthcare workers have bravely occupied the front lines, reads a press release from the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company, and represent more than 400 doctors, surgeons, nurses and professionals of health.

“Nevertheless, an ungrateful state government, which allows secular exemptions from the vaccine mandate, prohibits any consideration for religious accommodations,” the statement read. “These healthcare workers share sincere religious beliefs that prevent them from obtaining currently available COVID-19 vaccines. Many have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies against the disease. All have been persecuted and scorned for their religious beliefs on this issue.”

Erin Mersino, head of the Supreme Court and Legal Center Appellate Practice, wrote the brief. She pointed to the precarious position of New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who told New Yorkers that “God wants” everyone to use these vaccines, and that people who have decided not to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 “do not listen to God and what God wants. Hochul released these statements on the official state of New York website.

Since Hochul claims to be the authority on what God wants, she removed all religious accommodations from the vaccine mandate. However, many people sincerely hold religious beliefs that prohibit them from using the three COVID-19 vaccines on the market today and call for alternatives that are unrelated to aborted fetal cell lines. The governor failed to consider the range of diverse religious opinions allowed under the First Amendment’s free exercise clause. The brief explains that such an exercise of state authority endangers the principle of pluralism upon which our nation is built and ignores our constitutionally protected autonomy to make such religious decisions for ourselves. TMLC explains in the brief that “the mandate is based on the false assumption that the governor can use the powers of the state to address theological questions relating to religious conscience.”

The legal center also points to the unequal and punitive nature of New York’s mandate. New York decided to exempt individuals from its vaccination mandate for secular purposes, but intentionally left out an exemption for religious purposes. The legal center argues that this double standard violates the Constitution. Finally, the brief discusses New York’s decision to suspend unemployment benefits to health care workers who lose their jobs because of their religious opposition to the New York mandate. This additional penalty adds insult to injury.

The brief states, “The severity with which New York’s vaccination mandate treats religious objectors is so extreme it seems almost implausible. The undisputed record, however, presents statement after statement of [Hochul] establishing that no cause exists for such denial – it really is as bad as it sounds.

The legal center’s Amicus Curiae brief, which urges the United States Supreme Court to accept the case as soon as possible in order to protect the religious freedom of New York’s healthcare workers and prevent other states from adopt similar mandates, can be viewed here.


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