COVID-19 and The Courts

December, 2021


Last month, as an example of public safety considerations driving the legitimacy of employer-mandated vaccine policies, especially in health care, I reported that the U.S. Supreme Court denied an application for injunctive relief based upon a religious exemption to Maine’s new regulation requiring health care workers to receive COVID-19 vaccinations or face termination.  Doe v. Mills, 2021 U.S. Lexis 5350 (October 29, 2021).

However, on November 30, 2021, a federal district court judge in Louisiana ruled that the Biden administration’s vaccine policy for health care workers is temporarily blocked nationwide, following a decision on November 29 from a federal district court in Missouri that blocked the Biden administration vaccine directive for health care workers in 10 states.

But on November 29, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer denied a request from workers for a Massachusetts hospital system to suspend the system’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement. 

The Missouri district court judge was persuaded by the 10 states’ argument in its lawsuit against the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, (CMS) ,that the vaccine mandate would lead to staffing shortages.  That judge stated that the CMS did not get approval from Congress to require vaccinations for health care workers.

An article in the Wall Street Journal states that some hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers are preparing to operate without up to one-third of their staff at the start of next year if those workers don’t comply with the federal vaccine directive. 

Notwithstanding how some southern federal district court judges view such public health mandates, the U.S. Supreme Court still has supported such vaccine requirements.  Justice Breyer’s November 29 order came after the Supreme Court recently rejected challenges to vaccine requirements by Maine health workers, as relayed above, New York public school teachers and students at Indiana University.

Best wishes for a happy and safe holiday season.

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