New York’s Supreme Court has recently upheld its previous decision invalidating the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.
This ruling is expected to have significant implications for the state’s executive power. The mandate, initially implemented in September 2021, led to the departure or termination of around 34,000 healthcare professionals from their positions. The state’s Supreme Court had already struck down the mandate in January, prompting an appeal from the executive branch.
Judge Gerard Neri, in his opinion on Medical Professionals for Informed Consent vs. Bassett, emphasized that the state’s Department of Health overstepped its authority by mandating vaccines not specifically authorized by the legislature. He deemed the mandate “arbitrary and capricious” as the COVID-19 vaccines did not effectively prevent virus transmission, rendering the policy irrational.
Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, expressed her opposition to rehiring healthcare workers who lost their jobs due to the vaccine mandate, citing the need to ensure the safety of vulnerable individuals in healthcare facilities. However, in April, the state decided to voluntarily drop the mandate, though it continued to contest the decision in order to preserve executive authority.
This isn’t the first time New York’s vaccine mandates have faced legal challenges. In October of the previous year, the New York Supreme Court also struck down a mandate applicable to all public employees in New York City. Furthermore, in January 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked President Joe Biden’s attempt to enforce a mandate on large private companies, though it allowed the mandate to persist in medical facilities receiving funding from Medicare and Medicaid.
Margaret Florini, a spokesperson for Medical Professionals for Informed Consent, celebrated the recent decision as a “historic” victory against potential abuses of power. She emphasized the need for continued efforts to prevent such situations from occurring again, acknowledging the significant personal and professional losses experienced by healthcare workers due to the mandate.