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UTICA, New York (LifeSiteNews) – New York federal district court Judge David Hurd extended a temporary restraining order (TRO) on September 20 against state officials who sought to require all healthcare workers to get the COVID vaccine as a condition of employment.

Hurd had issued a TRO on September 14 and decided to extend it until a decision is made on a possible permanent injunction against the mandate by October 12. 

The lawsuit alleged that New York state officials violated federal anti-discrimination laws by refusing to grant any religious exemptions to the order. 

An attorney for the Thomas More Society explained why this extension indicates a likelihood of success. 

In order to satisfy the legal burden to obtain a TRO, you have to show that it is likely you will prevail on the merits … it’s an extraordinary remedy which is rarely granted,” Senior Counsel Stephen Crampton told LifeSiteNews during a phone interview on Wednesday. Crampton has been assisting on this lawsuit.  

The extension of the order “suggests he is likely to grant a permanent injunction, which would remain in place until the case reaches the state of trial. So, I would say the odds are good, but of course you can never say for certain,” Crampton said. 

“The main objection is a religious one, it is the conviction that they would be, in effect, cooperating with condoning the taking of innocent human life through abortion, because each of the vaccines currently available was tested and/or produced with fetal cell lines from aborted babies,” Crampton explained. 

The plaintiffs want to see a respect for federal law, including the free exercise of religion and equal protection. Crampton also said New York’s lack of religious exemptions violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which holds that federal laws supersede state laws. 

“All we are fighting for at this juncture is whether the mandate must recognize and respect religious objections of our clients,” Crampton said. New York is currently only granting medical exemption requests.  

The New York Department of Health referred LifeSiteNews to a previous statement from Hazel Crampton-Hays, Governor Kathy Hochul’s press secretary. 

“Governor Hochul is doing everything in her power to protect New Yorkers and combat the Delta variant by increasing vaccine rates across the State,” the emailed statement sent on Wednesday said. “Requiring vaccination of health care workers is critical to this battle. This order does not suspend the vaccine mandate, but it temporarily bars the Department of Health from enforcing the mandate where individuals have claims for religious exemption. We are considering all of our legal options to keep our communities safe.” 

This vaccine mandate attempts to nullify protections for sincere religious beliefs granted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, even though days earlier the state of New York had afforded protection for religious beliefs in its prior health order,” the Thomas More Society previously said on September 14.

Then-Governor Andrew Cuomo said on August 16 that he hoped mandates would push private businesses to implement a vaccine passport system. 

“I have strongly urged private businesses to implement vaccinated-only admission policies, and school districts to mandate vaccinations for teachers,” Cuomo said. “Neither will occur without the state legally mandating the actions – private businesses will not enforce a vaccine mandate unless it’s the law, and local school districts will be hesitant to make these challenging decisions without legal direction.” 

The state Public Health and Planning Council stripped away any religious exemptions during an August 26 meeting, the Democrat and Chronicle reported.

Other legal groups have had some success winning reprieves from jab mandates. 

Liberty Counsel won an exemption for at least 40 students after Loyola University Chicago implemented an inoculation mandate. 

“The students objected based on the fetal cell line/abortion connection since each of the three injections available were either produced or tested with fetal cell lines that originated in elective abortions,” the Christian legal nonprofit said in August.

 “These students did not want to be forced to choose between their faith and their education.”

LifeSiteNews has produced an extensive COVID-19 vaccines resources page. View it here.