NY Supreme Court Justice Strikes Down State's COVID Vaccine Mandate for Health Workers

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

NY Supreme Court Justice Strikes Down State's COVID Vaccine Mandate for Health Workers

Gerald Neri, a justice on the New York Supreme Court, invalidated the COVID vaccination requirement for medical personnel on Friday. 

According to the ruling, the state's health department and governor Kathy Hochul (D) exceeded their authority by imposing vaccination requirements without consulting the legislature and outside the scope of state public health law.

Neri wrote in his decision that the Respondents were expressly forbidden from implementing a mandatory immunization program for adults and children outside of what has been approved by the legislature.

The Respondents, their officers, agents, and employees are forbidden from carrying out or enforcing the Mandate because it exceeds the scope of their authority and is thus void and of no effect.

The judge determined that the particular vaccine was not permitted to be required by state law after considering the standards for separation of powers, writing,

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None of the aforementioned sections generally address COVID-19 or coronaviruses. Respondents are expressly forbidden from requiring any vaccination other than those that are specifically permitted by the law.

Neri also concluded that the mandate was both capricious and arbitrary, based on the evidence offered.

"Prevention of COVID-19 transmission by covered entities" is the title of the mandate. The Respondents acknowledge that the then-current COVID-19 shots do not stop transmission in a typical Orwellian fashion.

Further noting the absurdity of the health department's definition of "fully vaccinated," the court stated,

The hallmarks of "absurdity" are present in a definition that is subject to change at the whim of an entity and has no definition at all.

According to a statement, Children's Health Defense provided funding for the lawsuit "on behalf of Medical Professionals for Informed Consent and several individual healthcare workers." Sujata Gibson, the principal attorney for the plaintiffs, praised the decision in an email:

For the healthcare workers in New York who have been without a job for more than a year, this is a huge victory. The shortage of healthcare workers in New York State is dangerous and unprecedented, so this is also a huge victory for all New Yorkers.

In a statement released on Saturday, the New York State Health Department stated that it strongly disagreed with Neri's choice and is currently considering its options, according to Syracuse.com.

A crucial public health tool, the mandate that healthcare workers receive the COVID-19 vaccine protects vulnerable New Yorkers and those who provide care for them.

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The United States Supreme Court declined to overturn New York's mandate for health workers in December 2021 in a case that cited the absence of a religious exemption, so it is unclear how this decision will affect legal precedent.

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