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Justice Neil GorsuchErin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – Justice Neil Gorsuch slammed his fellow U.S. Supreme Court justices over their decision to decline to block New York’s COVID-19 healthcare vaccine mandate that intentionally excludes exemptions on religious grounds.

In a scathing dissent, Gorsuch condemned his fellow justices for denying immediate injunctive relief to New York healthcare workers. Democrat Governor Kathy Hochul’s COVID vaccine mandate requires them to receive the abortion-tainted shots with no allowance for religious exemptions.

Trump-appointed Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett provided the deciding votes by joining the Court’s liberals in rejecting the appeal for relief.

“New York recently issued a regulation requiring healthcare workers to receive a COVID–19 vaccine. Those who cite medical reasons are exempt. But no comparable exemption exists for individuals whose sincere religious beliefs prevent them from taking one of the currently available vaccines,” opened Gorsuch.

“It seems New York is one of just three States to have a scheme like this. And it seems originally even New York was headed in a different direction. When it announced the mandate, the then-Governor [Andrew Cuomo] promised a religious exemption. Weeks later, the State backtracked. It offered no scientific evidence, or even a written explanation, for the decision… The new Governor [Kathy Hochul] announced that the decision to eliminate the exemption was ‘intentional’ and justified because no ‘organized religion’ sought it and individuals who did were not ‘listening to God and what God wants.’ Now, thousands of New York healthcare workers face the loss of their jobs and eligibility for unemployment benefits.”

“Respectfully, I believe they deserve that relief,” continued the judge.

Explaining the rationale behind his dissent, Gorsuch stated, “Under the Free Exercise Clause, government ‘cannot act in a manner that passes judgment upon or presupposes the illegitimacy of religious beliefs and practices.’ As a result, we have said that government actions burdening religious practice should be ‘set aside’ if there is even ‘slight suspicion’ that those actions ‘stem from animosity to religion or distrust of its practices.’”

“New York’s mandate is such an action,” continued Gorsuch. “The State began with a plan to exempt religious objectors from its vaccine mandate and only later changed course. Its regulatory impact statement offered no explanation for the about-face. At the same time, a new Governor whose assumption of office coincided with the change in policy admitted that the revised mandate ‘left off’ a religious exemption ‘intentionally’… She said that ‘God wants’ people to be vaccinated—and that those who disagree are not listening to ‘organized religion’ or ‘everybody from the Pope on down.’”

“Then the new Governor went on to announce changes to the State’s unemployment scheme designed to single out for special disfavor healthcare workers who failed to comply with the revised mandate,” he continued. “This record gives rise to more than a ‘slight suspicion’ that New York acted out of ‘animosity [toward] or distrust of’ unorthodox religious beliefs and practices.”

While many are hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccines because they are experimental and have been linked to tens of thousands of deaths and millions of injuries, there are those too who oppose the shots, as referenced by Gorsuch, on legitimate religious grounds.

Notably, the fact that all currently available COVID-19 injections have links to fetal cell lines that were directly obtained via abortion, many Catholics, including some high-ranking clergymen, see the use of these vaccines as a transgression of the faith’s understanding of the sanctity of human life.

“The voice of the unborn children’s blood is crying to God from the abortion-tainted vaccines, from the abortion-tainted medicines,” stated Bishop Athanasias Schnieder early this year. “This voice is crying all over the world, and we have to awaken.”

Despite some narrow victories for pro-life regulations, religious liberty, and other conservative causes, the current Supreme Court (often mischaracterized by both sides as a “conservative majority”) has also made a number of liberal decisions, most notoriously Gorsuch’s 2020 majority opinion redefining “sex discrimination” in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its meaning (Kavanaugh voted with conservatives in that case, and Barrett was not yet on the court).

While Gorsuch has generally ruled more conservatively since then, Barrett and/or Kavanaugh have previously been the deciding votes against the Supreme Court taking up reviews of COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Maine and Indiana, transgender restroom “accommodation” in Virginia, Title X funding of the abortion industry, a Catholic hospital’s right to refuse gender “transition” procedures, and Christian business owners’ right to refuse participation in same-sex ceremonies.

This trend has compelled Gorsuch and Alito to take the unusual step of criticizing their colleagues for lacking the “fortitude” to resolve such issues and being “unwilling to … bear” the criticism that taking a stand would elicit.

Pro-lifers walked away feeling more cautiously optimistic about Kavanaugh and Barrett following their questioning of pro-abortion attorneys over Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, but their decisions on the New York mandate underscore how uncertain the outcomes of such cases remain.