The Supreme Court rejected Monday a challenge from New York health care workers who argued their state’s vaccine mandate violated their religious liberty.
The decision is only the most recent example of SCOTUS’ trend of not getting in the way of state-level vaccine mandates. Health care workers sought to obtain exemptions from receiving the vaccine, arguing the mandate forced them to choose between their faith and their jobs, but the court’s 6-3 decision rejected that argument.
The majority did not explain its decision, as is common when the court simply declines to hear a case. The dissenters, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, argued the mandate would only serve to ostracize religious Americans.
“Now, thousands of New York healthcare workers face the loss of their jobs and eligibility for unemployment benefits,” the justices wrote, according to The Associated Press.
“Today, our Nation faces not a world war but a pandemic. Like wars, though, pandemics often produce demanding new social rules aimed at protecting collective interests — and with those rules can come fear and anger at individuals unable to conform for religious reasons,” Gorsuch wrote.
The decision mirrors the court’s decision in October to refuse to block a similar state-level vaccine mandate in Maine. (RELATED: Border Patrol Agents Could Be Fired If They Don’t Get Vaccinated For COVID-19)
President Joe Biden imposed a federal vaccine mandate in September requiring all companies with more than 100 employees to ensure their workers are either vaccinated or take a weekly COVID-19 test. The mandate would affect roughly 100 million Americans.
All major portions of the mandate are currently held up in federal courts, however, with federal judges across the country issuing stays on enforcement until the issue can be litigated. The mandate is currently making its way through the federal court system and will almost certainly be appealed to the Supreme Court.
“We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers,” Biden said when introducing the mandate. “We’ll reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that’s vaccinated in business all across America.”