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Mandatory Vaccination

The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) recommended that the state consider mandating a COVID-19 vaccine.   NYSBA’s House of Delegates approved a resolution outlining conditions for requiring the vaccine for all New Yorkers save those exempted by doctors. It would be up to public health authorities to decide if a vaccine mandate is necessary, and whether it should apply to all residents or to a smaller population such as health care workers or students.

The association asked the state to:

  • Enact a state emergency health powers act and crisis standards of care addressing gaps in existing law.
  • Release older prisoners and those with disabilities and serious illnesses who do not pose a danger to the community

“In balancing the protection of the public’s health and civil liberties, the Public Health Law recognizes that a person’s health can and does affect others,” said Mary Beth Morrissey, chair of the Health Law Section’s Task Force on COVID-19, which proposed the resolutions approved by the House of Delegates today.

“The authority of the state to respond to a public health crisis is well-established in constitutional law. It may become necessary to require that certain individuals or communities be vaccinated, such as health care workers and students, to protect the public’s health,” said Morrissey, a research fellow at Fordham University’s Global Health Care Innovation Management Center and a faculty member in the graduate schools.

“The New York State Bar Association… (adopted) and publicly supports a recommendation that, in the event that voluntary COVID-19 vaccinations fall short of producing needed levels of immunity in the population, the state government should consider making it mandatory for all New Yorkers to undergo COVID-19 vaccination, even if people object to it for “religious, philosophical or personal reasons.”

In response the NYLP stated “Furthermore, it is reprehensible that NYSBA, an organization tasked with defending the Constitution, not dispensing medical advice, has endorsed Governor Cuomo’s continuing assault on New Yorkers’ First Amendment rights to freedom of religion.”

Every attorney must be a member of their state bar.  Attorneys don’t have a choice and there is no competition allowed, so they have a basic monopoly over the legal sector under SC state law (40-5-20).  They are the “administrative agency of the Supreme Court of South Carolina for the purpose of improving the administration of justice.”   As an administrative arm of the Supreme Court it would be hopeful that they remain neutral in their beliefs, but as a politically created agency it appears many times they tend to wade into political affairs.

It remains important that those of us in the Judicial System maintain discretion in our actions, refrain from the appearance of impropriety, and avoid the perception of bias.  That perception can be eroded when we unnecessarily insert ourselves into areas outside our role in the Judicial Branch.  Thank goodness the SC State Bar has the where-with-all to let the Legislative Branch do their job, while attorneys, like those at Goldfinch Winslow can focus on our job of protecting the citizen’s legal rights in South Carolina.

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