New York City firefighters, police officers, and other government employees who were fired after the city refused their request to be exempted on religious grounds from the city’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court late on Nov. 2 asking for the mandate to be halted.
It’s unfair that unvaccinated adult entertainers and athletes were exempted from the mandate while other unvaccinated workers were forced into compliance, and were fired if they refused the jab, argues John Bursch, senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy at the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a public interest law firm specializing in religious freedom cases that’s bringing the new legal action.
Many people who object to the various COVID-19 vaccines for religious reasons do so because aborted human fetal cell lines were involved in their testing, development, or production.
“New York City firefighters, teachers, police officers, sanitation workers, and other public employees have lost their livelihoods, and many are losing their homes, due to the city’s discretionary and unconstitutional vaccine policies,” Bursch said in a statement.
“As we write in our emergency application for stay, these city heroes have dedicated their lives to serving their neighbors and keeping their city running safely and efficiently, yet New York City officials suspended and fired them because they cannot take the COVID-19 vaccine without violating their sincere religious beliefs,” the lawyer said. “But for athletes, entertainers, and strippers, the city found a way to loosen its mandate.
“We urge the Supreme Court to listen to the stories of these dedicated public servants who are simply trying to provide for their families in a manner consistent with their faith. It’s past time New York City honored the faith tradition of its public workers and rescinded its unconstitutional vaccine policies.”
The application (pdf) in New Yorkers for Religious Liberty v. City of New York is addressed to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who deals with emergency applications in the 2nd Circuit.
While pandemic-era restrictions have been easing in recent months, some remain.
The Supreme Court threw out a major federal vaccination mandate in January.
The high court voted 6–3 on Jan. 13 of this year in National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) v. Department of Labor to block the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s private-sector vaccination regime. On the same day, the court ruled the other way in Biden v. Missouri, voting 5-4 to uphold a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rule requiring more than 10 million employees at healthcare facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Administrative agencies are creatures of statute” and “possess only the authority that Congress has provided,” the majority opinion in the NFIB ruling stated. “The Secretary has ordered 84 million Americans to either obtain a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly medical testing at their own expense. This is no ‘everyday exercise of federal power.’ It is instead a significant encroachment into the lives—and health—of a vast number of employees.”
“Although COVID-19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most,” the opinion added. “COVID-19 can and does spread at home, in schools, during sporting events, and everywhere else that people gather.”
It’s unclear when Sotomayor or the full Supreme Court will take up the new application.