Will the healthcare worker vaccine mandate hold up in court?


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) —Governor Andrew Cuomo is requiring all healthcare workers to get vaccinated by September 27. Several local hospitals and nursing homes said they will comply but if the order is challenged, will it hold up in court?

Attorney Terry Connors said the Supreme Court decided 100 years ago that government can mandate certain health actions for the safety of the people. But he said what hasn’t been explored yet is that ruling in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Connors said he thinks the vaccine mandate will be challenged.

“A lot will depend on the data and the science. How many people are affected, what is the issue with respect to the spread, is it more protective than harmful restricted to the human rights,” Connor said.

Governor Cuomo cited the delta variant as the reason for the mandate. Connors said the impact of the variant will play a role in a challenge.

“No one really has the ability to predict how and where and when its going to spread,” he said. “Keep in mind, when they decided 100 years ago that you could mandate vaccines for Smallpox the death rate was staggering at that time and the science then justified the actions on behalf of the authorities.”

In his announcement Monday, Cuomo also mentioned his continued urging to private businesses and school districts to require vaccines.

He said “neither will occur without the state legally mandating the actions,” private businesses won’t enforce a mandate “unless it’s the law,” and school districts will be hesitant “without legal direction.”

So could a mandate on these two entities be next?

“It’s going to be more difficult then because you have many private employers that would push back on the challenge,” Connors said. “It would be a tougher test for that broad of a mandate if it were to be issued.”

He also said part of the discussion in a courtroom will likely be why the governor decided to mandate this now with only days left in office.

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.

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