Federal Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order on State Vaccine Mandate

Federal Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order on State Vaccine Mandate

By Shuan Sim, Crain’s New York

A federal judge on Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order against the state enforcing its vaccine mandate on health care workers.

The state Department of Health on Aug. 26 required all health care workers to have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by Sept. 27, with no religious exemptions or options for testing.

David Hurd, a judge in the Northern District of New York, enjoined named defendants Gov. Kathy Hochul, state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker and Attorney General Letitia James from preventing employers from providing religious exemptions.The state Health Department is also barred from interfering with entities granting such exemptions moving forward, Hurd said in the order.

The order would take effect Sept. 27, when the mandate deadline hits.

The plaintiffs—17 pseudonymous health care practitioners—filed a complaint alleging the mandate violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the Supremacy Clause and the Equal Protection Clause. They are represented by attorneys from the Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based law firm.

This order does not suspend the vaccine mandate, but it temporarily bars the Department of Health from enforcing the mandate where individuals have claims for religious exemption, said a spokeswoman. “We are considering all of our legal options to keep our communities safe,” she said.

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