The US Supreme Court ruling that shot down President Biden’s vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses won’t be binding on challenges to similar state and city rules — but may help persuade local judges to rule the same way, anti-mandate lawyers said Thursday.
Attorney James Mermigis of Syosset — who bills himself as the “Anti-Shutdown Lawyer” — hailed the high court’s 6-3 decision to block enforcement of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration order, which he said would have amounted to an “unprecedented” expansion of the agency’s authority.
But, Mermigis said, “mayors and governors have police powers, meaning they could make these kinds of orders because they can say they are protecting the public and they are doing it for the well-being of the citizens.”
Mermigis, who recently filed a suit to add a religious exemption to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s vaccination requirement for health care workers, called the Supreme Court ruling “a little persuasive” because it “knocked down a vaccine mandate.”
“But I don’t find any solace in this decision for the state of New York because our mandates are much more restrictive than this OSHA mandate,” he said.
Staten Island lawyer Mark Fonte — whose firm, Fonte and Gelormino, has suits pending against former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vaccine mandates for school workers and businesses — said he wasn’t sure the ruling “will have a positive impact” on those cases.
But he said he planned to use it to “argue that if an agency’s powers are expanded, there has to be a limit to that.”
“OSHA’s powers were expanded to include a vaccine mandate and the court said: You expanded it too much, that is not what OSHA was designed to do,” he said.
“We are arguing the same thing: that the Health Department in the city of New York’s powers have been expanded too much by forcing these vaccine mandates.”
Fonte added: “Because if there is no limit on the expansion of the Health Department’s powers, where does it end? Can they order people to be quarantined? Can they order people to be under house confinement? Can they put them in detention centers for the unvaccinated? Where exactly does it end?”