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Supreme Court Justice Rejects Challenge to New Mexico’s Vaccine Mandate

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 12/21/2021 Greg Stohr
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(Bloomberg) -- A U.S. Supreme Court justice left in force New Mexico’s requirement that many of its health-care workers be vaccinated against Covid-19, turning away a request by a nurse who said she is opposed to the shot after doing her own research.

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Justice Neil Gorsuch made no comment Tuesday in rejecting the bid by Jennifer Blackford, who contended the mandate violated her right to bodily integrity. Gorsuch chose not to refer the matter to the full court, a step justices normally take when they see a matter as being a close call.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly turned away challenges to state vaccine mandates, including New York’s requirement for health-care workers, letting those rules stay in effect even if they don’t let people opt out for religious reasons.

The justices are likely to act early next year on two Biden administration vaccine policies: the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s shot-or-test rule for large employers and a separate health-care worker mandate issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Those cases raise different issues about the power of federal agencies.

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The New Mexico mandate, announced in August by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, applies to workers in hospitals and congregate care facilities. 

Gorsuch also rejected arguments from Talisha Valdez, who said she and her children shouldn’t have been required to get vaccinated to participate in the state fair in September. The two women filed their challenge jointly at the Supreme Court.

Gorsuch is the justice assigned to handle emergency matters from New Mexico.

The case is Valdez v. Lujan Grisham, 21A253.

(Describes other Supreme Court vaccine cases in third and fourth paragraphs.)

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