Seventeen medical health professionals had asked the court to enjoin enforcement of New York’s mandate that then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Aug. 16. The mandate required staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, adult care facilities, and other congregate care settings, be vaccinated for COVID-19 to continue to be employed.
The plaintiffs, including doctors, nurses, a medical technician, and a physician’s liaison, were facing termination, loss of hospital admitting privileges, and the destruction of their careers unless they consent to be vaccinated with vaccines in contradiction of their religious beliefs, the lawsuit argued.
Their religious beliefs compelled the plaintiffs “to refuse vaccination with the available COVID-19 vaccines, all of which employ aborted fetus cell lines in their testing, development, or production,” according to court documents.
The health care employees argued that the vaccine mandate would nullify protections for sincere religious beliefs under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, even though the prior state health order in effect just days earlier had afforded the same protections. Specifically, they argued that the mandate violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the Supremacy Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
“What New York is attempting to do is slam shut an escape hatch from an unconstitutional vaccine mandate,” attorney Christopher Ferrara, Thomas More Society special counsel, said in a statement before the injunction was granted.
“And they are doing this while knowing that many people have sincere religious objections to vaccines that were tested, developed, or produced with cell lines derived from aborted children.”
The plaintiffs are identified in the lawsuit only by pseudonyms because, as they state in the legal complaint, they are “vilified” by the media as “pariahs who must be excluded from society until they are vaccinated against their will.”
The new mandate “emerges in the context of an atmosphere of fear and irrationality in which the unvaccinated are threatened with being reduced to a caste of untouchables if they will not consent to being injected … with vaccines that violate their religious beliefs, are clearly not as effective as promised, and have known and increasingly evident risks of severe and even life-threatening side effects.”
Judge David Hurd of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, a Bill Clinton appointee, granted a temporary restraining order (pdf) the morning of Sept. 14 in the case. The lawsuit was brought against New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D).
“The vaccine mandate is suspended” and the New York Department of Health “is barred from taking any action, disciplinary or otherwise, against the licensure, certification, residency, admitting privileges or other professional status or qualification of any of the plaintiffs on account of their seeking or having obtained a religious exemption from mandatory COVID-19 vaccination,” Hurd’s order states.
Ferrara learned the court injunction was granted while he was being interviewed over the telephone by The Epoch Times.
Asked if he was pleased by the ruling, Ferrara laughed and said, “Are you kidding me?”