Evan Martin (left), Katherine Martin (center) and Ester Martinez from Albuquerque stand with a group of protesters in front of the roundhouse in Santa Fe on Monday, October 25, 2021. A lawsuit against the New Mexico vaccination mandate for certain occupations is unsuccessful in traction in federal jurisdiction. (Eddie Moore / )
SANTA FE – A judicial challenge aimed at New Mexico COVID-19 vaccine requirements imposed by the government of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham battles for traction as a federal appeals court and US Supreme Court judge attempt to block the mandate , have rejected.
In a ruling last week, the US 10th Court of Appeals denied a motion to suspend enforcement of the vaccine mandate on the grounds that plaintiffs had failed to provide evidence to support claims that they were violating their constitutional rights.
US Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch then rejected another attempt at an emergency ruling by the country’s highest court.
The verdicts came after a federal judge denied appeal in September, saying a state public health order mandating COVID-19 vaccine syringes for certain occupations “has no rational relationship with any legitimate government purpose.”
While a full appeal could still be pursued, Lujan Grisham spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett praised the court rulings on Thursday.
“Immunization guidelines save lives and protect New Mexicans,” Sackett told the Journal. “We are pleased that its function as a public health tool has been maintained.”
The New Mexico Vaccine-Related Public Health Ordinance was issued in August and later revised. It requires COVID-19 vaccination for people who work in such “high risk environments” as hospitals, nursing homes, hospice facilities and prisons.
The mandate applies to doctors, nurses and others, but allows exceptions for medical and religious reasons. Employees who refuse to be vaccinated risk losing their jobs, and about two dozen officials from state correctional institutions have left their jobs or have been fired for non-compliance.
Since its inception, vaccine requirements have sparked protests in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Roswell, but have also received support from several health organizations.
One of the two plaintiffs in the New Mexico lawsuit is Jennifer Blackford, who is currently on unpaid leave from her job as a nurse at the Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque.
Presbyterian Healthcare Services, which operates the hospital and eight others across the state, announced shortly after the state’s vaccine mandate was published that its entire workforce of more than 13,000 people would require COVID-19 vaccinations.
Albuquerque attorney Blair Dunn, who represents plaintiffs on the case, said Thursday he knew the US Supreme Court’s injunction was a long way off.
“We’re very, very early on in the case,” Dunn told the Journal.
He also said he hoped the legal battle over the vaccine mandate would ultimately center on issues of physical integrity and the right to one’s chosen profession.
Since New Mexico imposed its vaccine mandates, President Joe Biden has also announced a similar requirement for federal employees, health care providers who receive federal funding, and workers in companies with more than 100 employees.
Appeals against the federal vaccination mandate have also been filed.
As of Thursday, a total of 88.3% of New Mexicans ages 18 and older had received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the Ministry of Health, with 75.6% of adults having received all of the vaccinations required for a full vaccination.
Of all residents in the state, about 65% were fully vaccinated, although some young children are still not eligible for vaccination doses.
Meanwhile, the unsuccessful challenge to government vaccination also marks the latest legal victory for Lujan Grisham.
Other pandemic-related lawsuits filed against the Democratic governor targeted a temporary ban on indoor eating, the state’s refusal to release large numbers of inmates from prison, and financial losses from mandatory business closings and capacity restrictions.
However, the state Supreme Court has sided with lawmakers in a legal challenge over whether the governor’s office had sole authority to spend approximately $ 1.7 billion in federal pandemic relief funds.