Has the Supreme Court been infected with Trump syndrome for a long time?

If you are not a doctor, do not trust your own medical research. Sounds simple right? But some people must sometimes rely on their own guess: federal judges. They do not circulate their decisions before announcing them. That is why it is difficult for them to detect medical errors in their work.

It could infer that judges should not make public health decisions. Three Supreme Court justices disagree.

On Does v. Mills, a divided court refused to block Maine’s requirement that health care workers vaccinated against the coronavirus despite their religious objections. Judges Neil gorsuchNeil Gorsuch Supreme Court refuses to hear challenge to New York abortion rule Supreme Court will not review ACLU’s request to access oversight court rulings Supreme Court rejects challenge from abortion workers Maine health to vaccines mandate MORE, Clarence thomasClarence Thomas Supreme Court Refuses to Hear New York Abortion Rule Challenge Supreme Court Denies Maine Healthcare Workers’ Challenge to Vaccine Mandate A Politicized Supreme Court? That was the MORE point and Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoThe Supreme Court refuses to hear the challenge of the abortion rule in New York The Supreme Court rejects the challenge of the Maine health workers to the vaccine mandate A politicized Supreme Court? That was the MORE point dissented. “Where many other states have adopted 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 your constitutionally protected religious beliefs. His plight is worthy of our attention. “

Gorsuch argued that the regulation discriminates against religion. Maine “allows those who invoke medical reasons to avoid the vaccine mandate on the apparent premise that these people can take alternative measures (such as wearing protective equipment and periodic testing) to protect their patients and co-workers. But the State refuses to allow those who invoke religious motives to do the same ”.

Why would a state allow medical but not religious exemptions? The medical part is simple. The real goal of the state is not to maximize vaccines, but to prevent disease and death. This would not be achieved by imposing vaccines on those who would be threatened by them.

Religious adaptations always involve guessing whether there will be so many claims that the purpose of the law will be thwarted – whether the exemption of the Catholic Mass from the alcohol prohibition of the Volstead Act of 1919 would lead large numbers of people to convert to Catholicism. just to be able to drink. (it did not), or whether exempting all pacifists would paralyze military recruitment (at the end of the Vietnam War, did).

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 claims their objection is sincere, religious objections are easily abused. A quarter of the Los Angeles Police Department workforce has claimed them, and 40 percent of the city’s police have yet to be vaccinated..

Gorsuch says Maine need not worry, citing its high vaccination rate. But that could be the result of the very regulation you want to throw away. How can you know? You cannot commission role models or post them for feedback. You cannot revise your decree if you guess wrong.

Maine also cited its interest in “preventing absences caused by COVID that could cripple a facility’s ability to provide care.” Gorsuch replies that “unvaccinated medical objectors are at the same risk.” But people with genuine medical exemptions are extremely rare. They have never caused a disease outbreak that we know of. Religious exemptions led to measles outbreaks in New York and California. That’s why those states (and eventually Maine) revoked their religious exemptions.

Gorsuch stated that “medical and religious exemptions are on a comparable basis when it comes to the stated interests of the state.” One wishes we could have shown that sentence to public health experts (who had I tried in vain to educate him) before posting it.

Most alarmingly, Gorsuch speculated that the government may soon not have a compelling interest in stopping 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 undefined states of emergency.” Last month, more than 45,000 Americans died as a result of the pandemic, and COVID was the second leading 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 favor of her evaporate.

Justice Amy coney barrettAmy Coney Barrett Overnight Health Care: Supreme Court Notes Skepticism About Texas Law Supreme Court Notes Skepticism About Texas Six-Week Abortion Ban Roe’s Roulette: Biden Administration Takes A Chance With Emergency Appeal From Texas abortion law MORE, united by Justice Brett kavanaughBrett Michael Kavanaugh Healthcare overnight: Supreme Court signals skepticism about Texas law Supreme Court signals skepticism about six-week abortion ban in Texas Supreme Court rejects challenge by Maine healthcare workers to mandate of vaccines MORE, coinciding, he said that the Court must be cautious with the decisions taken “in a short period without the benefit of a complete informative presentation and an oral argument.” However, he has shown that he is almost as skeptical of public health measures against COVID as Gorsuch, and may eventually join him in demanding religious exemptions. She should understand that the same information deficit affects all courts that would decide religious challenges to vaccines.

Court used to be cautious about convincing religious accommodation, careful not to paralyze the legitimate interests of the state. Until a few months ago, no U.S. court had entered into the First Amendment to grant a religious exemption to a vaccine requirement. For more than a century, the courts had universally rejected such claims. Yet judges are now recklessly flirting with America’s deteriorating ability to respond to the worst pandemic in a century. Why?

Some parts of the Republican Party emphasized the traditional conservative parts of Trump’s program while staying away from his constant racism, cruelty, and lies. Federal judges, including those he appointed, dismissed his unfounded challenges to Biden’s election. However, even these apparently asymptomatic carriers show signs of continuing damage from Trumpism.

Trump, for reasons known to himself, decided early in the pandemic to minimize the disease, attack measures to control its spread, lie about the dangers (which, we now know, he understood perfectly well) and discourage the use of masks. That helped make COVID a partisan issue.

The infection has spread to surprising places and survives the Trump presidency. Long COVID is terrible. But the Court may have something just as bad: protracted Trump syndrome.

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


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