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Judges are 'overwhelmingly' upholding COVID-19 vaccine mandates in many states

·2 min read
COVID-19 vaccine clinic.
COVID-19 vaccine clinic. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Despite legal challenges from "a range of people" — including nurses, firefighters, and students — judges have "overwhelmingly upheld" many state orders requiring health care workers, public employees, and government contractors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk termination, The Wall Street Journal reports. The exceptions to the mostly-failed challenges are limited, typically involving religious objectors.

"What we're seeing are courts finding that mandates are lawful and constitutional," said Jennifer Piatt, a deputy director with the Network for Public Health Law. Over 20 states and "dozens of cities" have implemented vaccine mandates as a way of controlling COVID — and in at least 17 lawsuits, notes the Journal, "judges appointed by both Democrats and Republicans have refused to block" the requirements.

Courts in Maine, Massachusetts, and Oregon, for example, have rejected attempts to stop governors' inoculation mandates. In one Oregon case, U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon wrote in his opinion that while "certain plaintiffs face a difficult decision in having to take a vaccine they do not wish to take or find a new job, possibly in another state," their concerns are outweighed by "the state's interest in public health and welfare," per the Journal.

What is, however, "less settled is the authority of the federal government to set vaccine rules in the private sector," adds the Journal. The Biden administration is in the process of finalizing emergency workplace regulations that would require large companies to implement a mandate. It is "also unclear" how religious objections will play into the leeway states have, considering courts have been quicker during the pandemic to block measures understood to violate freedom of religion under the First Amendment. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

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