Has the Supreme Court been infected with Trump long syndrome?

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If you are not a doctor, do not rely on your own medical research. Sounds simple, right? But sometimes some people have to rely on their own guesses: the federal judges. They do not circulate their decisions until they have announced them. It is therefore difficult for them to detect medical errors in their work.

You might infer that judges shouldn’t be making public health decisions. Three Supreme Court justices disagree.

In What is it. Mills, a divided court refused to block Maine’s demand that healthcare workers be vaccinated against the coronavirus despite their religious objections. Judges Neil gorsuchNeil GorsuchSupreme Court refuses to hear New York abortion rule challenge Supreme Court will not consider ACLU’s request for access to supervisory court decisions Supreme Court dismisses agents’ challenge of Maine regarding the PLUS vaccination mandate, Clarence thomasClarence ThomasSupreme Court Refuses to Hear New York Abortion Rule Challenge Supreme Court Dismisses Maine Health Workers’ Challenge to Vaccination Mandate A Politicized Supreme Court? That was the point PLUS and Samuel alitoSamuel AlitoSupreme Court Refuses to Hear New York Abortion Rule Challenge Supreme Court Dismisses Maine Health Workers’ Challenge to Vaccination Mandate A Politicized Supreme Court? That was the point PLUS dissident. “Where many other states have enacted religious exemptions, Maine has charted a different course,” Gorsuch wrote. “There, healthcare workers who have served on the front lines of a pandemic for the past 18 months are now being laid off and their practices closed. All for adhering to their constitutionally protected religious beliefs. Their fate deserves our attention.

Gorsuch argued that the regulation discriminates against religion. Maine “allows those who cite medical reasons to avoid the vaccine’s mandate on the apparent premise that these people can take alternative measures (such as the use of protective equipment and regular testing) to protect their patients and their colleagues. But the state refuses to allow those who cite religious reasons to do the exact same thing.

Why would a state allow medical but not religious exemptions? The medical part is easy. The real goal of the state is not to maximize vaccinations but to prevent disease and death. This would not serve to force vaccines to those who would be endangered by them.

Religious accommodations always involve guessing whether there will be as many claims that the purpose of the law will be thwarted – whether the Catholic Mass’s exemption from the 1919 Volstead Act’s alcohol ban would lead a large number to convert to Catholicism just to be able to imbibe (this is not the case), or if the exemption of all pacifists would hamper military recruitment (at the end of the Vietnam War, it made).

Religious exemptions for COVID-19 vaccination in 2021 will almost certainly prolong the pandemic. Only 57 percent of the adult population is fully vaccinated. Vaccine resistance is a Republican political identity marker. Because it is hard to contradict someone’s assertion that their objection is sincere, religious objections are easily abused. A quarter of the Los Angeles Police Department called for them, and 40% of the city’s police officers are still not vaccinated.

Gorsuch says Maine need not worry, citing its high vaccination rate. But that could be the result of the very regulation he wants to wreck. How can he know? He cannot commission behavioral models or post them for comment. He cannot revise his decree if he is wrong.

Maine also cited its interest in “preventing absences caused by COVID that could cripple a facility’s ability to provide care.” Gorsuch retorts that “unvaccinated medical objectors are also at risk.” But people with genuine medical exemptions are extremely rare. They have never caused an epidemic to our knowledge. Religious exemptions have caused measles outbreaks in new York and California. That’s why these states (and possibly Maine) repealed their religious exemptions.

Gorsuch said that “medical exemptions and religious exemptions are on an equal footing when it comes to claimed interests of the state.” We would have liked to be able to show this sentence to public health experts (who had tried in vain to educate him) before publishing it.

Even more alarmingly, Gorsuch speculated that the government may soon have no compelling interest in stemming the spread of COVID. There are vaccines; there are treatments. “If human nature and history teach anything,” he wrote, “it is that civil liberties face grave risks when governments proclaim indefinite states of emergency. Last month, more than 45,000 Americans have died following the pandemic, and COVID was the second cause of death in America. Human sacrifice is protected as long as it is actuarial. If religious freedom is understood in this extravagant way, the long-standing consensus in his favor will be evaporate.

Justice Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettOvernight Health Care – High Court signals skepticism over Texas law Supreme Court signals skepticism over six-week abortion ban at Texas Roulette Roe: Biden administration makes bet with l Texas Abortion Law Emergency Appeal PLUS, joined by Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughOvernight Health Care – High Court signals skepticism over Texas law Supreme Court signals skepticism over Texas six-week abortion ban Supreme Court dismisses challenge by Maine health workers concerning the PLUS vaccination mandate, concurring, said the court should be cautious of decisions made “on a loose match without the benefit of a full briefing and oral argument.” She has, however, shown that she is almost as skeptical of public health measures against COVID as Gorsuch, and could possibly join him in imposing religious exemptions. She must understand that the same information deficit afflicts every court that decides on religious challenges to vaccines.

The tribunal used to be careful on imperative religious accommodation, while taking care not to interfere with the legitimate interests of the State. Until a few months ago, no U.S. court had ever upheld the First Amendment to grant a religious exemption to a vaccine requirement. For more than a century, courts have universally rejected such claims. Yet judges are now recklessly flirting with America’s ability to deal with the worst pandemic in a century. Why?

Parts of the Republican Party have focused on the traditional conservative parts of Trump’s platform while staying away from his constant racism, cruelty and lies. Federal judges, including those he appointed, have dismissed his baseless challenges to Biden’s election. Yet even these seemingly asymptomatic carriers show signs of further damage from Trumpism.

Trump, for reasons he is more familiar with, decided at the start of the pandemic to downplay the disease, attack measures to control its spread, lie about the dangers (which we now know, he understood perfectly) and discourage the wearing of a mask. This has helped make COVID a partisan issue.

The infection has spread to surprising places and survives Trump’s presidency. Long COVID is terrible. But maybe the Court has something just as bad: the long Trump syndrome.

Andrew Koppelman, John Paul Stevens Professor of Law at Northwestern University, is the author of “Burning Down the House: How Libertarian Philosophy Was Corrupted by Delusion and Greed” (St. Martin’s Press, forthcoming). Follow him on Twitter @AndrewKoppelman.


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