Barrett and Kavanaugh Supply Majority to Deny Religious-Liberty Claim on Vaccine Mandate
They joined Roberts and the Court’s progressives in declining relief to Maine health-care providers, who must now be vaccinated against their beliefs or lose their jobs.
Late Friday, Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh joined Chief Justice John Roberts and the Supreme Court’s three progressives in denying a preliminary injunction to a group of medical professionals who sought to be exempted from Maine’s vaccine mandate because of their religious convictions.
Justice Neil Gorsuch filed a compelling dissent in the case, John Does 1-3 v. Mills, joined by his fellow conservative justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. The dissenters stressed that, besides being likely to win on the merits, the religious objectors were merely asking to maintain the status quo — to keep their jobs despite being unvaccinated — while the Court decided whether to grant a full review of their case. In turning them down, Barrett and Kavanaugh dodged the weighty civil-rights issues, seeing the case, instead, as an opportunity to gripe about the Court’s emergency docket.
Maine now requires certain health-care workers to be vaccinated or face the loss of their jobs and medical practices. Unlike many such mandates, Maine’s does not provide an exemption for religious objectors. The plaintiffs are medical professionals who object to the vaccine, and thus the mandate, based on their Christian faith. Specifically, because fetal tissue from terminated pregnancies was used in developing the approved vaccines, the plaintiffs see immunization as an implicit endorsement of abortion, in violation of their religious beliefs. The sincerity of those beliefs is not in dispute.
The plaintiffs made an emergency application for a preliminary injunction. In his dissent from the 6–3 majority’s refusal to grant that application, Gorsuch explained that the main issues on such an injunction request are whether the applicants are likely to succeed on the merits and, if so, whether they would suffer irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction. Gorsuch proceeded to make a strong case that the claimants would prevail on both issues.
Religious liberty is fundamental, expressly protected by the First Amendment. Under currently controlling precedent (which, as I’ve previously detailed, is disputed), a law that impinges on religion may survive if it is both neutral (i.e., not hostile to religion) and generally applicable (i.e., imposed on everyone equally). Maine’s vaccine mandate does not meet this standard because it provides for individualized exemptions. Though medical professionals are not excused from compliance based on their religious beliefs, they needn’t comply if they get a note from a health-care provider claiming that, in their cases, immunization “may be” medically inadvisable.
As Gorsuch elaborates, this medical exemption is remarkably lax. There is no requirement that the note explain why the health-care provider believes vaccination would entail medical risk; nor is there any limitation on what qualifies as a valid “medical” concern. As Gorsuch tartly observes, “It seems Maine will respect even mere trepidation over vaccination as sufficient, but only so long as it is phrased in medical and not religious terms.” (Emphasis in original.)
Even if a law fails to qualify as neutral and generally applicable, it can still survive a First Amendment challenge if it satisfies the Court’s “strict scrutiny” tier of review — the most demanding for state action to meet. Generally, strict scrutiny requires a state to show that (a) its law furthers a compelling government interest, and (b) the conditions imposed by the law are the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.
Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, Has Been Diagnosed with Terminal Cancer
This follows his transfer to a medical facility in December
The new comes from a letter he wrote:
French President Emmanuel Macron Says Someone Who Refuses COVID Vaccine Is ‘Not a Citizen’
French president Macron’s desire to ‘piss off’ unvaccinated individuals triggers outrage
French President Emmanuel Macron faced significant criticism for his comments claiming that he would like to “piss off” unvaccinated individuals.
Macron spoke candidly during an interview with French newspaper Le Parisien, during which he said that he wanted to make life difficult for individuals who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine. The French “sanitary pass” has prompted a number of protests and stiff opposition while the country nears 75% full vaccination.
“I really want to piss them off, and we’ll carry on doing this – to the end,” Macron said three months ahead of a presidential election. “I won’t send [unvaccinated people] to prison, so we need to tell them, from 15 January, you will no longer be able to go to the restaurant. You will no longer be able to go for a coffee, you will no longer be able to go to the theatre. You will no longer be able to go to the cinema.”
The French Parliament heard Macron’s comments during a debate over his proposed bill to tighten restrictions for unvaccinated individuals, leading to a swift and strong uproar in response.
His opponents have labeled the comments “unworthy” of a president.
“Even if one doesn’t share their choice, they have broken none of our country’s laws,” Marine Le Pen, Macron’s chief opponent in the upcoming election, told reporters late Tuesday. “He is continuing his policy of division, of pitting the French against one another.”
She later tweeted “A president shouldn’t say that…Emmanuel Macron is unworthy of his office.”
Leftist politician Jean-Luc Melanchon described the remarks as an “astonishing confession,” according to the BBC.
But Macron’s allies have defended the comments, with Stéphane Séjourné, a member of the European Parliament, arguing on Twitter that unvaccinated individuals have “bothered” the French by “forcing the rest of the population to endure restrictions.”
Debate over Macron’s bill continue into Wednesday as opponents still seek to delay its passage. Some of his supporters claimed to have received death threats because they are backing the legislation, The New York Times reported.
Boston Mayor Wu Relentlessly Heckled As New COVID-19 Restrictions Are Announced
Boston unveils the ‘Be Together’ initiative, requiring full vaccination for entry to restaurants, gyms, and sports arenas for anyone 12 and older. In March the mandate will phase-in for younger children.