Hyde-Smith and colleagues file amicus brief supporting workers deprived of religious exemptions from Covid vaccination mandates

Below is a press release from Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith:

Senators Support Full Supreme Court Review of Constitutional Religious Freedoms Protection Case

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today joined 10 colleagues in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the protection of religious freedoms in a case challenging the lack of religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state and private healthcare employees in New York City.

The brief supports the petition for certiorari filed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and the Thomas More Society. The petitioners seek a full review by the Supreme Court of Dr A.c. Hochul which involves a lawsuit brought by healthcare workers with religious objections to COVID-19 vaccines to avoid losing their jobs and unemployment benefits.

“This Court should grant certiorari and set aside the decision below,” the senators said in their brief. “New York’s mandate cannot stand. The mandate represents a calculated effort to prevent the process of religious accommodation that the Constitution and Congress have long demanded.

In their lawsuit, health care workers cited New York governor’s comments that those with religious objections to the vaccine “don’t listen to God and what God wants.”

“Officials have a duty to protect religious freedom,” the senators wrote. “Allowing New York’s mandate to remain as is would set a dangerous precedent that could invite other authorities, driven by their zeal to implement the latest public health guidelines – or anything else in the future – to ignore rights fundamentals of their citizens. ”

After the Second Circuit overturned a district court’s preliminary injunction in favor of the employees, the Supreme Court on December 13, 2021, denied the injunction to those employees by a vote of 6 to 3. Denial Dissenter , Judge Neil Gorsuch, joined by Judge Samuel Alito, wrote: “Today, we don’t just disappoint candidates. We fail. It is among our nation’s proudest prides that, ‘[i]If there is a fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or low, can prescribe what must be orthodox in [matters of] religion.'”

To ensure that the Supreme Court’s denial of emergency relief is not its final word on this critical religious freedom issue, the senators’ amicus brief argues:

Congress has vigorously and repeatedly sought to defend religious liberty under the authority of the First Amendment.

New York’s vaccination mandate reflects an intentional effort to undermine Congressional protection of religious observance and practice in the workplace.

New York has laid out a roadmap to undermine religious freedom in the workplace. Left unchecked, it would set a dangerous precedent for future state and local officials who may be tempted to circumvent Congressional faith protections.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) led the amicus brief. In addition to Hyde-Smith, the brief was also signed by Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Kevin Cramer (RN.D.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) , John Hoeven (RN.D.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.).

Click here read the senators’ amicus brief.