Legal Brief Challenges Biden Vaccine and Mask Mandate; Massachusetts Family Institute A Signer

Printed from:

The Massachusetts Family Institute is one of 30 right-of-center pro-family state organizations that signed a friend-of-the-court brief encouraging the U.S. Supreme Court to quash President Joe Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate.

“My office has been flooded with calls from people seeking help in requesting religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine mandates,” said Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, in a written statement Friday. “We have seen time and time again how the rights of these individuals, many of them medical professionals, are being largely ignored by a bureaucracy that doesn’t seem to understand the law or have any familiarity with sincere religious faith.  We’ve also seen government agencies hand down ever-changing COVID rules that carry the force of law. Not only are these rules often arbitrary and self-contradictory, they frequently discriminate against people of faith. We must not allow the government to bypass the legislative process, where there is accountability, by giving seemingly limitless authority to unelected bureaucrats under the guise of a perpetual ‘emergency.’ ”

Employers with 100 or more employees are supposed to require their employees to be vaccinated for coronavirus or tested every week under the rule. Biden on November 4, 2021 ordered the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor – widely known as OSHA – to enforce the new policy.

The original deadline for getting vaccinated was Tuesday, January 4, 2022, but several groups have challenged the order in federal court. The current deadlines are Monday, January 10 for requiring unvaccinated workers to be masked and February 9 for requiring workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Friday, January 7 in two cases challenging Biden’s order. It’s not clear when the court will issue a ruling – which had not happened as of the morning of Saturday, January 8.

Supporters of the vaccine mandate and masking policy say it’s necessary to deal with an extraordinary health crisis and that the federal government has the authority to put it in place.

Opponents say the policy is outrageous and that the government doesn’t have the authority to do it.

The friend-of-the-court brief was put together by Texas Values, which describes itself as pro-religious liberty, pro-family, and pro-life. Other signers in New England are Cornerstone Policy Research of New Hampshire, Christian Civic League of Maine, and Family Institute of Connecticut.

The brief argues that the Biden administration’s policy steps around the usual way of passing federal legislation or issuing federal regulations.

“This case involves an attempt by the federal government to enact a sweeping regulation of most employees without action by Congress or even typical notice-and-comment agency rulemaking procedures,” the Texas Values friend-of-the-court brief states. “For support, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration points to a rarely used emergency provision, even though the agency has never used that provision to do anything like what it seeks to do here:  impose a nationwide vaccine mandate on most employees, to be policed by their own employers.”

Some people object to the vaccines on religious grounds, either because of the drug companies used cell lines from aborted fetuses to develop the vaccines, or because they believe it harms their bodily integrity in a way not pleasing to God, or for some other reason.

The top-down process of issuing the rule has led to an infringement of religious freedom that wouldn’t ordinarily come about in the usual processes, the brief argues.

“Unlike Congress and the states, federal agencies have historically been inattentive to religious liberty. They often disregard potential effects of their rules on religious exercise, leading to results that the political process would not otherwise countenance,” the Texas Values brief states.

Such filings are known as “amicus briefs,” since they are formally called amicus curiae, Latin for “friend of the court.”

One strategy of some amicus briefs is to try to reel in a vote from a single justice who might otherwise be undecided. The Texas Values brief quotes a dissent in a previous case written by Justice Neil Gorsuch and pre-high-court-days writings of justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

During oral arguments Friday, January 7, several justices sounded skeptical about whether the Biden administration has the authority to implement the nationwide vaccine mandate. Some observers say the court is likely to strike down the policy or limit it.

In Massachusetts, though, Governor Charlie Baker has so far fended off legal challenges to his vaccine requirement for state employees. Boston has a similar policy, and on Friday, January 15 plans to start requiring customers of various indoor businesses to present proof of vaccination just to get inside.

Beckwith said the situation in the state is distressing, even of the plaintiffs challenging the Biden mandate prevail at the federal level.

“While I am cautiously optimistic that the Supreme Court will restore reason and justice on the vaccine issue, it is disappointing that the lower courts here in MA and the First Circuit have failed to protect individuals and business owners over the past 18 months,” Beckwith said in an email message to NewBostonPost.


New to NewBostonPost?  Conservative media is hard to find in Massachusetts.  But you’ve found it.  Now dip your toe in the water for two bucks — $2 for two months.  And join the real revolution.