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Federal Appeals Court Won't Delay New York Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Workers

    Client Alerts
  • November 12, 2021

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a motion last week for a preliminary injunction filed by health care workers who object to a New York state COVID-19 vaccination mandate. The New York mandate contains medical exemption procedures but no provisions for religious objections to receiving the vaccine. The plaintiffs alleged that the mandate violates their federal constitutional rights.

In We the Patriots USA, Inc. v. Hochul, the Second Circuit concluded that the plaintiffs are not likely to succeed on the merits of their claim. The court noted the strain placed on the New York health care system resulting from the Delta variant, and it found that the state had a compelling interest in requiring vaccinations among health care workers. The failure to include a religious exemption does not violate the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights because it does not target any particular religious practice.

This case demonstrates the long-standing deference courts have demonstrated with regard to state vaccination mandates. States are presumed to have general police powers to protect the health and safety of their residents, and federal courts generally have not considered federal constitutional protections to trump these public health measures.