Spate of lawsuits nationwide fight against compulsory COVID-19 vaccines

Attorneys fighting COVID-19 vaccine mandates say the issue will undoubtedly end up before the United States Supreme Court.

Columns at the United States Supreme Court building. (Photo: Jesse Collins / Unsplash) 

An explosion of litigation seeking to strike down COVID-19 shot mandates is a reaction to increasing animus toward Christians whose objections are  based on constitutionally protected religious beliefs — with key cases winding their way through federal court representing, civil rights attorneys say, possibly the last line of defense against government tyranny.

COVID shot mandates are being enacted at the federal, state, and local government levels, at hospitals, universities, secondary schools, businesses, restaurants and even in parts of the Catholic Church. The coercive policies have sparked a flood of lawsuits in state and federal courts, many claiming protected rights of conscience are being trampled underfoot by over-reaching bureaucrats.

“It is just an extraordinary moment in our nation’s history. Unprecedented,” said Stephen M. Crampton, senior counsel with the Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based public interest and civil rights law firm. “From my perspective at least, all of our freedoms are on the line now.”

A federal judge in Utica, New York granted a Thomas More Society request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the State of New York and its mandate that all health care workers receive a COVID shot, with proof of full vaccination due between Sept. 27 and Oct. 7. On Sept. 21, U.S. District Judge David N. Hurd extended the original TRO he issued Sept. 14; it is now in effect until Oct. 12. Judge Hurd cancelled oral arguments in the case and said he will rule on a preliminary injunction by Oct. 12, based on legal filings from both sides.

New York originally allowed health care workers to file for a religious exemption to the shot mandate, but then withdrew that policy in favor of one with only medical exemptions. Judge Hurd’s order forbids the state from interfering with the granting of religious exemptions while the TRO is in effect. Despite the injunction, concern among New York health care workers is high, with some still being told they will be fired for refusing to take the shot.

“We have this temporary injunction, TRO, in the state of New York, and yet our phones are ringing off the hook with health care workers who are nevertheless—in spite of the injunction —being told, ‘You get the vaccine or you’re out the door,’” Crampton said. “There is a disregard for the rule of law, for our constitutional fundamental rights, disregarding science, disregarding reason, logic all across the board here. It’s just never been seen before.”

Spate of suits across the U.S.

Federal and state lawsuits are underway in at least 11 states from Oregon to Florida, challenging policies that require employees, students and others to get anti-COVID shots — often despite their religious objections. That’s on top of the 24 states’ attorneys general threatening to sue the Biden Administration over the president’s plan to force health care workers and employers with 100 or more employees to require COVID vaccines.

Many plaintiffs expressed opposition to the shots, which to one degree or another used cells derived from aborted children in their research, development, or production. Others say they should get medical exemptions for natural immunity after surviving COVID and developing their own antibodies. There is also growing anxiety expressed in the legal filings about the safety and efficacy of the shots, despite the federal government’s insistence they are “safe and effective.”

A group of Los Angeles Police Department employees filed a federal lawsuit Sept. 11 against the City of Los Angeles, saying a city ordinance that makes a COVID vaccine a condition of city employment violates the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the California Constitution, the federal Supremacy Clause and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The suit says despite the stated availability of religious exemptions to the mandate in one part of the ordinance, another section makes the vaccine a prerequisite for promotions and transfers, with no religious or medical exemption.

The Pacific Justice Institute, which represents the Los Angeles police employees, said the city never provided a means to submit requests for exemptions before the Sept. 7 deadline to show proof of vaccination. The city set up a portal for applications on Friday, Sept. 10 and closed it down after 72 hours. Since making requests for medical or religious exemptions, employees have “endured an onslaught of hostile demands, threats of being terminated, and accusations from commanding officers,”the lawsuit reads, “such as statements that they lack ‘sympathy and caring’ for COVID-19 issues and that they are ‘unfit to wear the uniform.'”

A police captain, acting as the chief duty officer, appeared at a roll call and advised those present that the “city is willing to let go of the roughly 3,000 officers not vaccinated,” the lawsuit said. Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, said his clients were “shamed and cheated” out of their constitutionally protected rights. “We have asked the court to require the city to respect and immediately accommodate employees who have sincerely held religious beliefs,” Dacus said in a statement.

A group of 2,009 health care workers in Maine, represented by Liberty Counsel, filed a federal lawsuit against Maine Gov. Janet T. Mills and two state health officials. The plaintiffs make similar arguments to those in the New York case, chiefly that Maine did not offer an exemption to its vaccine mandate for sincerely held religious beliefs. For the state to preclude, deny or revoke vaccine exemptions for religious beliefs is “plainly unconstitutional,” the suit reads,  and it “runs roughshod over the Supremacy Clause’s demand that federal law be applied in the states, and imposes irreparable First Amendment injury on plaintiffs’ sincerely held religious beliefs.”

The first preliminary injunction against a COVID vaccine mandate was issued Sept. 9 by U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney against Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich. Sixteen Christian student athletes sued the university for denying their petitions for exemptions to the athletic department vaccine mandate. They requested exemptions based on religious beliefs. Judge Maloney ruled that Western Michigan’s policy was not narrowly tailored to meet its compelling interest and did not utilize the least-restrictive means. Western Michigan has appealed the preliminary injunction to the Sixth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati.

The lead attorney in the Western Michigan case, David A. Kallman of the Great Lakes Justice Center, said Judge Maloney’s preliminary injunction gives him hope for his case, and others nationwide that are fighting vaccine mandates. 

“It’s one thing to say you’ve got to wear a mask or social distance or get tested once a week. Those are less invasive. People tend to lose those cases when you raise religious objections,” Kallman said. “But when it comes to this, the vaccine, when you’re being forced to make a choice to either inject this into your body against your will or lose a job, or like our clients at Western Michigan, you’d lose your scholarship and your position. The courts seem to be coming down on our side on that issue. It’s like a line that they’re going to stop them at, which I think is a great thing.”

Kallman said he agreed with language in the New York health care suit that said vaccine mandates will create a “caste of untouchables” who face loss of jobs and professional standing during a “pervasive climate of fear and loathing of the unvaccinated.”

“That’s exactly what they’re doing is they’re creating a caste society like in India,” Kallman said. “And all because people want to exercise their right to make their own medical decisions … which everybody up until now just presumed you had the right to do. If you’ve got cancer and you don’t want to accept medical treatment, you don’t want chemotherapy, you have the right to say no.”

‘We have no more freedom’

Kallman said the issues at stake in the lawsuits show how society is at a tipping point over COVID. “I think that this is a line that if we lose this battle, there’s nothing the government can’t make you do,” he said.. “If you don’t have the right to decide your own medical treatment—right or wrong, it’s your choice—if you don’t have that right and the government can force you to inject a serum, a medical treatment into your body against your wishes, there’s nothing they can’t do. And we have no more freedom as far as I’m concerned. That’s how critical this is. We don’t live in a free society anymore. If they prevail on this vaccine mandate stuff, we’re in dire straits.”

The vaccine mandates being enacted at local, state and federal levels have people spooked and looking to civil-rights law firms for help. “We are now receiving well over 1,000 pleas for help every day,” Liberty Counsel said on its web site. “We are overwhelmed by the number of people desperately facing life-and-death decisions. Never in our 32-year history have we faced such a deluge of requests for legal help and protection from such outrageous tyranny. Our entire staff is under the gun, working round the clock to save as many lives as possible.”

Liberty Counsel on Sept. 21 sent a letter of demand as prelude to a possible lawsuit against Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, alleging the hospital’s denials of religious exemptions to its mandatory COVID vaccine policy are unlawful. “Texas Children’s cannot compel any employee’s compliance with Texas Children’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy against the employee’s sincerely held religious belief,” wrote Liberty attorney Horatio G. Mihet. Exemption denials were issued by the hospital based on personal-belief statements written by the employees, Mihet said.

The vaccine mandates and other coercive COVID-19 policies come from an authoritarian/administrative mindset that assumes policy-makers have all of the answers, said Edward A. Morse, professor of law and the McGrath North Mullin & Kratz Chair in Business Law at Creighton University in Omaha. 

“If you respected the ‘zone of conscience,’ you would not be so anxious to impose mandates on everyone,” Morse said in an interview with Catholic World Report. “The fact of the matter is that the government has been unsuccessful in their quest at persuasion. There are too many legitimate reasons not to pursue these vaccines. They are not telling us the truth and following the science when it comes to the legitimate health concerns that arise from the vaccine itself. For many people, the value proposition is simply not there.”

“I think the government, especially the Biden Administration, understands that,” Morse said. “And so what is their response? Instead of respecting the citizens, we’re going to intrude on their rights and we’re going to change the value  proposition by making it impossible for you to engage in ordinary acts of commerce like going to a restaurant or going to a concert. We’ll even up the ante a little further, because we may take away your very livelihood through these compulsory vaccination requirements.”

The heavy-handed approach by governments takes the freedom away from employers who want to respect not only religious conscience rights, but also “other conscientious and prudential beliefs about what’s good for you and your family,” Morse said.

“You’re trying to use the crushing power of government to coerce fealty from all of those employers as well,” he said. “The threat to the individual is you’ll lose your livelihood if you’re unwilling to comply. It’s a systemic problem that’s really rooted in the undue trust of the administrative state and the power of government on behalf of the progressive establishment that runs the federal government and many states.”

Despite the disparate opinions coming from U.S. bishops and the Catholic Church over the COVID vaccines—even the Vatican will soon require a vaccine pass to gain entrance—the conscientious objectors got recent encouragement from Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan. In a letter distributed by the Confraternity of Our Lady of Fatima, Bishop Schneider said he was touched by the example of a U.S. woman who wrote him to report she was fired from her job for refusing the COVID vaccine.

“I urge you to continue on this path that you have chosen of witnessing to the truth that unborn life is sacred and that the trafficking of fetal body parts is an evil industry that cries out to Almighty God for His justice,” Bishop Schneider wrote. “As you seek His Kingdom, first and above all, believe that you will be provided for.”


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About Joseph M. Hanneman 90 Articles
Joseph M. Hanneman writes from Madison, Wisconsin.

19 Comments

  1. Word of caution, as if we don’t have enough to worry about. Even having to get weekly Covid testing is not only to treat human beings as vectors of disease, like a chicken that has some kind of virus, but the swabs used for these invasive tests are made of toxic materials such as aluminum, glass, zirconium, sulfer, and the carcinogen (as determined by the FDA) of Ethylene Oxide, which is used as a pesticide in agriculture. Dr. Antoinetta Gatti has done work in this area, as have Dr. Pablo Campra, in Madrid, Dr. of Chemical Sciences. Read about how noxious what is on the swabs is, how even that is not good for one’s health and how the nanoparticles on the swabs are implicated in all kinds of problems in the nasal area. “Repeated swab testing can produce chronic lesions…including granulomas or fibrosis…”. Graphene oxide is associated with the loss of smell and taste. Some swabs have fiberglass coatings. Hey, all we need to know is that most swabs are probably made in China. Enough said. So to shove that thing in your nasal cavity every week? No thanks.

  2. If the vaccines are effective, why the push for unvaccinated people to comply — or else? Unvaccinated people would pose no threat to those who choose to get vaccinated, if the vaccines work. This whole issue is another way for the Biden regime to divide the nation. Their “everything is racist” didn’t work. The “mostly peaceful riots” of 2020 didn’t work. How can they split us into factions? They will try every avenue until they are successful. Don’t allow the Great Divide.

    • Donna,
      Thank you for this insight. The Chinese would certainly be interested in this.

      It seems that maybe some of the power operators within the Democrat party are repeatedly trying to push, push, push on different issues hoping that one of these pushes might go all the way. It certainly feels this way.

  3. The administrative state attempt to destroy the integrity of the free citizen is also made clear by the globalist ruling class arguments of Angelo Codevilla.

  4. I get that this website’s audience skews older, more fearful, and conspiratorial (see the comments already), but you don’t need to keep on giving this unqualified loon a platform. It’s a bit morally disingenuous and doesn’t really have anything to do with “catholic.” Who’s paying you to keep him on the docket?

    • I would normally delete your insulting and false nonsense. But I’m happy to let this one through just to point out, first, that according to Google Analytics 60% of CWR’s are ages 18-34. (But perhaps the ultra-right-wing, loony Google is in on CWR’s deceptive, nutty work, eh?) Secondly, how is news about a worldwide pandemic affecting everyone not “catholic”, when that very word means “universal”?

    • If I just happened upon this site and came across your comment, I would think it was merely attracting sheeple. However a cursory glance at other comments would inform me that it actually has a diverse and intelligent readership.

  5. Joe K leaped as high as he could at the Left Field Wall,but Carl Olson’s massive 9th inning blast.Cleared the wall with with plenty to spare.For a walk off homer.Which delighted the crowd to no end.

    • ‘check out this google analytics stat’
      ‘ha ha, got ’em!’
      I wish I were as easily impressed as you and Alice!

      I am however glad the editors admit these articles are deceptive and nutty.

      • “I am however glad the editors admit these articles are deceptive and nutty.”

        In the words of Ronald Reagan: “There you ga again.”

        You posited a falsehood about CWR’s readership and the article. I briefly corrected both. You doubled down.

        I think your true character is easy for all to see.

  6. people are finally waking up to the fact that this covid is nothing more than fear mongering scare tactics by the government. hitler did it with gas chambers and the government is doing it with masks. the masks are useless and the covid test cant even tell the difference between covid and the flu so people get scared and think they have covid when they dont. covid has been gone for a long time now but the government wants people to think it is still around just for control of the people.

    • Thank you for the common sense reply which I totally agree with and the reasons I will not get any of those depopulation poison injections. I live in Sunny Florida and therefore I will tell Commie Biden that he can stick his poison where the Florida sun doesn’t shine.

  7. When we’re faced with a virulent disease that can kill on a level 20 X greater than the flu [see Good Px] although much less than bubonic plague, and can surreptitiously attack vital organs with lasting effect there’s something to fear, and medical concern is expected. Added to what we know is the unknown. It’s a new disease, indication is it was engineered [likely China] designed to facilitate penetration of the human system. Facts continue to pour in often statistics that aren’t fully validated or assessed. There’s bound to be confusion, mistakes, fear. And conspiracy theories. Some ridicule conspiracy although we’re at a time in history when due to amassed wealth, technical expertise, political affiliation man, we well know can be unscrupulous, and like the cynical proverb, may not let a crisis go to waste. Although no one armed with the best information and benign intent plus a bullhorn can quell the crisis. Sociologists refer to collective emotive response, a kind of electric that passes through a crowd. Today a nation. The best I can do as a priest is call for a return to the faith, if faithful deepen it with prayer, sacrifice the age old spiritual remedy. Also realize death will touch us all sooner or later. And with that faith, convey inner strength, calm, and courage. Live life under the sun, within the confines of our lives private and public show blessed charity. And when occasion asks as New Englanders are wont to say, be as happy as a clam.

  8. ““It’s one thing to say you’ve got to wear a mask or social distance or get tested once a week. Those are less invasive. People tend to lose those cases when you raise religious objections,” Kallman said. “But when it comes to this, the vaccine, when you’re being forced to make a choice to either inject this into your body against your will or lose a job, or like our clients at Western Michigan, you’d lose your scholarship and your position. The courts seem to be coming down on our side on that issue. It’s like a line that they’re going to stop them at, which I think is a great thing.””

    The problem is that even a “mask mandate” or “social distancing” is “crossing the line” – and almost no one seems to realize (or publicize) this. It is true that people are more likely to tolerate wearing a mask, but that doesn’t make it just and non-coercive.

    Nowadays, an “innocent” or innocent touch on the shoulder could have some person “crying sexual assault,” but firing a person for refusing to unnaturally cover his face and alter his breathing isn’t – apparently – worthy of condemnation.

    The big issue is legal positivism combined with utilitarianism. There are just laws and unjust “laws.” For those who are formally equal, there are laws which can be made and “laws” which can’t.

    I note that it is always about religion when it comes to lawsuits. So apparently if there wasn’t any “religious objection” (e.g. cells of murdered children) then there couldn’t be any other objection that would be recognized in court? Even if there is (And THERE IS.) some other basis for objection, that fact almost always seems to “escape” publication.

    So the right to make one’s own medical decisions doesn’t include the right not to wear a face mask (i.e. a medical device) or the right not to be tested? I doubt that people would agree with this.

  9. I don’t see vaccine mandates and vaccine passports getting very far. There are several reasons. First, many people have already had covid, recovered, and probably obtained lifetime immunity. Why should they bother taking a vaccine? Secondly, the evidence shows that the vaccines are not effective. They do offer some protection, but not nearly as much as claimed after the initial tests, which were conducted by the pharmaceutical companies themselves, and what little protection the vaccines do offer diminishes rapidly within months. Thirdly, the vaccines are highly dangerous and have caused many serious reactions. In fact, my doctors have been telling me that many people who are already vaccinated will do fine for about one year, but then start to have serious problems. This has not been a factor up to now, because the vaccinations only began last January. But once we reach the winter, look out.

  10. This is why people are innocent until proven guilty in the court of law. What is happening with covid, that tenant is flipped the other direction where everyone is assumed to have covid/is sick so everyone has to mask, test, vaccinate…

    Gone are the days when you get sick you get treatment it seems. Heck, what is your doctor’s answer to you if you call them to say you tested positive for covid and want to know your next steps? In the USA, you get told to isolate from others and if you get too ill to have breathing problems then go to a hospital so they can put you on a ventilator and hope for the best. Pretty much, the direction of let covid run its course and hopefully you survive it… Is that medical treatment?

    Other parts of the world are pushing forward with treatments, but if there were treatments, then there would be less need of a vaccine. So governments are pushing hard to mandate vaccines now, before approving treatment plans, so they can set a precedent to the future forced vaccinations for whatever new “threat” they deem it so.

    Masking and continual testing of healthy people is were the line should have been drawn, but too many just let that fly past in fear, so now we are too far along and fighting to stop the vaccine mandates…

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