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A New York state Supreme Court justice has issued a scathing decision in regard to pandemic-related mandates issued by the Commissioner for New York State, the state Department of Health, and Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Judge Gerard Neri sided with a group of healthcare workers, the Medical Professionals for Informed Consent, who filed suit against the COVID-19 vaccine mandate in October, ruling that the state officials all overstepped their authority when they issued it since it is not included in the state’s public health law.
Neri wrote in the ruling that the mandate is “null, void,” according to ABC7.
“In true Orwellian fashion, the Respondents acknowledge then-current COVID-19 shots do not prevent transmission,” he also noted, the outlet reported.
A statement from the state health department said officials were “exploring options” moving forward after the ruling.
“The requirement that healthcare workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 protects vulnerable New Yorkers and the people who care for them, and it is a critical public health tool. The State Health Department strongly disagrees with the judge’s decision and is exploring all options,” said the statement from the DOH.
“It feels like it should’ve happened, you know, a long time ago,” Rachel Ponka, a registered nurse, told the outlet, adding that it’s a step in the right direction.
“It’s definitely great news to hear and I’m sure a lot of people are relieved about it,” she noted.
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The outlet added: “When the vaccine mandate went into effect in 2021 under former Governor Andrew Cuomo, Ponka said she didn’t follow through with the requirement at a senior care center she worked at in Olean. She ended up losing her job as a result.”
“It was heartbreaking, and it really shook me up, and I went through some pretty bad depression financially,” Ponka said.
Steven M. Cohen, litigation chair with HoganWillig Law Firm, said he believes the ruling will be appealed. But he also explained the judge’s reasoning behind his ruling.
“What his honor did is he said, ‘Look whether you want to take the vaccine or not, that’s up to you but it’s not up to the executive branch of government,'” Cohen said.
In November, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejected a request for the nation’s highest court to hear a case against New York’s vaccine mandate.
“The justice denied an emergency request, received by the court on Nov. 4, to block the policy by individual municipal workers, as well as a group called New Yorkers For Religious Liberty, while their appeal of lower court decisions siding with the city proceeds. The plaintiffs – firefighters, building inspectors, police officers, emergency medical technicians, teachers, sanitation workers, and others – are represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom conservative religious liberty group,” Reuters reported.
“Sotomayor, who is the justice designated by the court to act on emergency matters arising from New York and certain other states, has repeatedly rebuffed challenges to New York City’s vaccine mandate, including by a police detective in August and public school teachers and assistants last year. The court as a whole in June refused to take up a religious challenge to New York state’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers. New York City in August 2021 ordered employees in the largest U.S. public school system to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Two months later, the city ordered all municipal workers to get the vaccine,” Reuters added.
Back in August, Sotomayor also rejected a bid to block New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. She rejected a request from New York Police Department detective Anthony Marciano, who asked the justice to reinstate a temporary restraining order against the city regarding its mandate for city workers.
Supreme Court justices are in charge of overseeing one of more circuit courts in the country. Sotomayor, an Obama appointee, received the application because she handles applications from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which includes New York.
“The order was issued by a New York judge in late 2021 but dissolved by a federal court, which later threw out Marciano’s complaint. An appeals court rejected a request for a stay pending appeal, leading to the request to Sotomayor,” Epoch Times reported. “In a brief, Marciano through a lawyer said that the mandate is violating his due process rights and causing him irreparable harm. He also said the mandate violates state and federal law.”