DEC. 1, 2021

Yesterday, U. S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer—a 1994 appointee of President Bill Clinton—denied, without comment, a motion for a preliminary injunction against Mass General Brigham, sought by nurses and other employees opposed to the hospital system’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

Mass General Brigham is New England’s largest health care conglomerate, with 16 member institutions and over 80,000 employees. Since the system’s vaccine mandate was announced in June, 2,402 employees have requested religious or medical exemptions. Only 234 exemptions—less than ten percent of those sought—have been granted.

Since November 5th, MGB has fired 430 staff members for declining vaccination.

On October 17th, the hospital workers filed suit in Federal District Court in Boston, claiming religious and disability discrimination. On November 12th, the Chief Judge of the U. S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, F. Dennis Saylor—a 2003 George W. Bush appointee—ruled against the plaintiffs.

On November 18th, the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston upheld the District Court decision. On November 23rd, the plaintiffs filed an Emergency Application for Writ of Injunction Pending Appeal, requesting relief from
Justice Breyer, who is the Circuit Supreme Court Justice for the First Circuit.

Breyer, who voted with the Supreme Court majority in October to deny a similar request from health care workers in Maine, rejected their request and refused to refer the matter to the full Supreme Court.

The hospital workers were represented by Attorney Roger K. Gannon of the Liberty Counsel and Attorney Ryan P. McLane, who had previously represented two University of Massachusetts students, Hunter Harris and Cora Cluett, who were denied vaccine exemptions by UMass in July.

The Catholic Action League called Breyer’s decision “a cruel and unwarranted injustice to dedicated nurses and health care workers who, after years of exemplary service and sacrifice, have now lost their jobs, and very possibly, their livelihoods and their ability to support their families.”

Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle made the following comment: “The decisions of the Supreme Court in the Maine and Massachusetts cases are defeats for religious liberty, personal autonomy and freedom of conscience. They can only serve to exacerbate social and political divisions in this country while compromising the ability of our nation’s health care profession to deliver critical services to those in need.”

“Our constitutional republic, long the envy of the world, is devolving into an arbitrary and punitive authoritarian regime, dominated by a new left corporate oligarchy abetted by a compliant government and a subservient judiciary.”

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