by Mia Gradick & Jorge Gomez • 5 min read
In June, we’re looking back on seven U.S. Supreme Court victories YOU helped First Liberty achieve over the last few years.
This week, our special “Supreme Victory Series” celebrates our 2022 success when the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s unconstitutional vaccine mandate on companies with more than 100 employees, including religious organizations. This ruling stopped a massive government power-grab and was a major win for religious liberty.
In September 2021, President Biden directed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to put in place a federal vaccine mandate on businesses with 100 or more employees, a policy that also impacted faith-based employers. Businesses were also required to give workers paid time off to get the vaccine or recover from any side effects. Those that did not comply were subject to fines of up to $14,000 for each violation.
First Liberty represented three national religious organizations subject to the mandate: American Family Association, one of the largest pro-family organizations in the country; Answers in Genesis, a world-class, Christ-centered, family attraction, with physical properties including a full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark; and Daystar Television Network, an international, faith-based network “dedicated to spreading the Gospel 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” We filed a lawsuit on their behalf challenging the mandate. We explained that our clients could not in good conscience force their employees to violate their religious beliefs and convictions regarding vaccines.
We argued the mandate was a dangerous and illegal expansion of government power that threatened the freedoms of millions of religious organizations and people of faith in the workplace. Not only did the mandate violate the Constitution, but it was also unlawful because Congress has never given OSHA the authority to impose a mandatory vaccination requirement.
“We don’t live in a dictatorship where a President can issue an edict and take over all of the large companies in our nation and the lives of over 84 million Americans,” explained First Liberty President and CEO Kelly Shackelford at the time. “This policy is clearly lawless, giving government a new, expansive power over all Americans, including religious organizations and their employees. This mandate is massively unconstitutional.”
Our clients initially received a favorable decision when a federal appeals court issued an order temporarily halting the mandate. But then another appellate court reinstated the mandate, once again endangering not only our clients, but also millions employed by religious organizations across the country. We filed an emergency stay application asking the Supreme Court to put that reinstatement on hold as the litigation proceeded. Soon after, the Court announced it would hear oral argument in several consolidated cases.
In January 2022, the Supreme Court blocked the mandate from going into effect. This not only brought huge relief to our clients, but also to countless private employers. It stopped the Biden administration from federalizing the nation’s workforce and forcing businesses to violate the conscience rights of their employees. It reaffirmed that no religious American should be forced to choose between their work and their religious beliefs.
America was established on religious freedom and the Constitution clearly says Americans must be free to exercise their religious beliefs. It’s a freedom that we highly value and protect, including at work. The right to religious freedom is NOT suspended in times of crisis or emergency, and it does not stop when Americans clock in. Federal law also protects workers against discrimination on the basis of religion and requires religious accommodation in the workplace.
Today, we can celebrate an important win at the Supreme Court that made a huge impact for American workers and effectively stopped a constitutional crisis.
Even still, attacks against Americans of faith in the workplace continue skyrocketing. All across the country, people of faith are being forced to choose between their faith and their livelihood. Ministries and religious employers are being targeted for operating in a manner consistent with their beliefs and convictions.
Right now, there’s a prime opportunity for YOU to help First Liberty bring on more victories. At the end of June, we will wrap up our Fiscal Year—and we need your help to reach our yearly goal. If you give to First Liberty any time between today and June 30th, your donation will have a multiplied impact thanks to a generous $300,000 Challenge Grant!
You’re the one keeping us on the frontlines, fighting for what matters most. With your help, and God’s favor, we’ve won multiple, precedent-setting cases at the Supreme Court…and together, we can win more. Can we count on your support?