“My Body, My Choice,” Vaccination Mandates, and Religious Freedom, by Charles J. Russo

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One of the Ninth Circuit’s points in its May 15th ruling on Keene v. City and County of San Francisco, was that the two plaintiffs faced “a Hobson’s choice: lose your faith and keep your job, or keep your faith and lose your job.”

By Charles J. Russ, Catholic World Report, May 20, 2023

Charles J. Russo, M.Div., J.D., Ed.D., Joseph Panzer Chair of Education in the School of Education and Health Sciences (SEHS), Director of SEHS’s Ph.D. Program in Educational Leadership, and Research Professor of Law in the School of Law at the University of Dayton, OH, specializes in issues involving education and the law with a special focus on religious freedom. …

On May 15, 2023, the Ninth Circuit, in Keene v. City and County of San Francisco, in a ruling that may signal a return to some semblance of normalcy in the post-COVID-19 world, reversed a federal trial court in California’s denial of a request for injunctive relief by two former employees who were denied religious exemptions from their municipal employer’s vaccine mandate. While Keene is non-precedential and did not address the underlying claims on the merits of the employees’ statutory and ultimately constitutional questions, the Ninth’s Circuit’s order in favor of the two employees is noteworthy (even though the COVID-19 vaccine mandates have expired) because it represents a victory for religious freedom. …

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