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Paul, Weiss Successfully Defends the Religious Exemption in the New York State Courts’ Vaccination Mandate
- Client News
- March 7, 2022
Paul, Weiss successfully defended the vaccine mandate of our client the New York State Unified Court System—which includes 13 judicial districts across 62 counties—in a lawsuit attacking the mandate’s religious exemption on First Amendment grounds. Five state court employees who were denied religious exemptions to the court system’s vaccination requirement brought Section 1983 claims, alleging a violation of their civil rights, in the Northern District of New York. They argued that the religious exemption was unconstitutional, both as written and as applied to them. Following expedited briefing, Senior U.S. District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn rejected the plaintiffs’ application for injunctive relief.
In his 20-page decision, the judge found that the plaintiffs were not likely to succeed on the merits of the case. He also touted the court system’s religious exemption process—on which the Paul, Weiss team consulted and provided guidance—as “carefully designed” and “narrowly tailored” such that it likely satisfied even strict scrutiny review, should such an exacting standard apply.
The Paul, Weiss team included litigation partners Bruce Birenboim, Liza Velazquez and Gregory Laufer and counsel Robert Kravitz.