BIG WIN! Federal judge rules that New York may NOT force private employers to deny religious exemptions

From Harry Mihet of Liberty Counsel ⬇️

BIG VICTORY IN NEW YORK! The federal judge in Thomas More Society’s case has EXTENDED the previously issued TRO, and transformed it into a PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION that will now be in place for the entire time it takes to litigate this issue in the courts (months or years). The Preliminary Injunction blocks THE STATE OF NEW YORK from interfering in the religious exemption process, and from FORCING private employers to deny religious exemptions.

The main reason behind the Court’s 27-page ruling is that New York’s decision to abolish Title VII and religious exemptions IS LIKELY TO BE SHOWN (in the ongoing litigation) to be UNCONSTITUTIONAL, in violation of the Supremacy Clause, and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

The Court has concluded that a State (like NY) cannot target religion, and cannot remove religious exemptions while allowing medical exemptions to remain in place. The supposed risk of unvaccinated workers is the same, be they medically or religiously motivated, and the State cannot accept one but reject the other.

The Court has also concluded that NY cannot show that religious healthcare workers cannot be accommodated, since most other states and employers ARE finding ways to accommodate them.

These are the arguments we have made from the very beginning. Praise God for listening ears on our courts!


Importantly, the TMS case was brought only against the State, and not any private employers. Accordingly, this decision only applies to the State of New York. The decision DOES NOT guarantee that private employers will now grant all exemption requests. The decision instead removes the “Governor made us do it” excuse/defense from private employers, and makes private employers liable under Title VII if they wrongfully deny exemptions.

While we hope that all private employers will grant all meritorious exemption requests, experience tells us to expect otherwise, and to expect that additional litigation will be needed to punish individual lawbreakers.

Private employers who wrongfully deny religious exemptions may not be “in contempt” of this particular Order today, but they will be in violation of Title VII and will not have the “Governor made us do it” defense.


No doubt that the State will immediately appeal this ruling to the Second Circuit Court of Appeal, which is already looking at this issue in other contexts as well. Pray that they will affirm today’s well-reasoned decision.

In our own case (#LibertyCounsel), the Eastern District of New York has set a preliminary injunction hearing for next Tuesday, October 19. We are filing another brief today. We DID sue several private defendants in our case. Our Court may be inclined to adopt today’s ruling for our own case, and we will ask that it be extended to the private employers that we have sued.

Therefore, even as we REJOICE and PRAISE God for today’s momentous victory (and congratulate TMS for their great work), we must continue to FIGHT and PRAY for justice.

Thank you for standing with us!

LC press release with link to the ruling:

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