New York Nurses Fighting State’s Vaccine Mandate Take Case To U.S. Supreme Court

Steve Bittenbender (The Center Square).

New York’s three nurses objected due to religious convictions to being given the COVID-19 vaccination. They took their case to U.S. Supreme Court. That’s a result of a federal appellate panel striking down an injunction late last week against a statewide order requiring medical professionals working with patients to be vaccinated.

Lawyers representing Diane Bono, Michelle Melendez and Michelle Synakowski filed an emergency application for an injunction against the vaccine mandate as they ask the nation’s highest court to review the case.

They are all members of We the Patriots USA which is a non-profit that defends individual rights. In the lawsuit, they also list this group as a plaintiff.

The filing appeared on the U.S. Supreme Court’s docket Tuesday evening.

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“We will have already begun planning our next move if this step fails, but we remain optimistic that the United States Supreme Court will put a stop to this blatant religious discrimination in New York,” attorney Cameron Atkinson wrote in a blog post.

They are all opposed to the COVID-19-based vaccines, as they were developed or tested on cell lines that have been derived from aborted foetuses.

Their case, initially filed in U.S. District Court for New York’s Eastern District, was combined at the appellate level with a case in New York’s Northern District federal court. The 17 healthmcare workers in that case won the statewide injunction last month that prompted the state’s appeal.

The filing before the U.S. Supreme Court said that Bono, who has worked for nearly 40 years, lost her job after Northwell Health because of the state’s order. Melendez is currently in Northwell on medical leave but she fears that she may be let go due to her non-vaccinated status.

Synakowski received a religious exemption from St. Joseph’s Hospital before the state amended its mandate in late August. Following the removal by the state of faith-based exemptions from the orders in August, Synakowski received a religious exemption from St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Synakowski was facing termination in September 21, however, the Northern District restraining orders and subsequent injunctions led to Synakowski’s hospital reinstate her exemption. However, last Friday’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision means she faces termination once again.

The circuit court panel decided that New York officials were entitled to remove the exemption and remanded the cases to the respective districts. Additionally, the state argued that employees who have not been vaccinated could be terminated by private employers. They could be assigned work which does not require direct contact to patients by employers.

In a statement after the panel’s ruling, Gov. Kathy Hochul explained that this order was required because of how the state continued to address the pandemic, and more contagious Delta variant.

“On Day One, I pledged as Governor to battle this pandemic and take bold action to protect the health of all New Yorkers,” she said. “I commend the Second Circuit’s findings affirming our first-in-the-nation vaccine mandate, and I will continue to do everything in my power to keep New Yorkers safe.”

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Representatives of the Thomas More Society, a nonprofit law firm, did not respond to requests for comment.

As in the Northern District lawsuit, the attorneys representing the nurses claimed they had been violated their First Amendment rights because the state maintained exemptions to those who were not immunized due to medical reasons.

“Rather than create a system of reasonable accommodation, they have created a system of unreasonable termination,” the emergency application stated.

The nation’s top court recently decided against hearing a similar case involving health care workers in Maine as only three justices agreed to proceed. To proceed with a case, it takes four justices.

The lawyers representing the nurses said to the court that they think there’s a difference in their case from the Maine one.

“The change has its roots in the Respondents’ hostility toward the particular religious beliefs that the Applicants hold, and this key difference,” the application stated.

This article was Syndicated by permission of The Center Square.