The court acted on emergency appeals filed by doctors, nurses and other medical workers who say they are being forced to choose between their jobs and religious beliefs.
Justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented. “Now, thousands of New York healthcare workers face the loss of their jobs and eligibility for unemployment benefits,” Gorsuch wrote in a 14-page opinion that Alito joined.
New York is one of just three states, along with Maine and Rhode Island, that do not accommodate health care workers who object to the vaccine on religious grounds.
The court had previously turned away health care workers in Maine, who filed a similar challenge, with the same three justices in dissent.
As of Oct. 19, roughly 90% of health care workers were fully vaccinated and most of the rest had received one of two doses, the state told the high court. Fewer than 2% of nursing home, adult care facility and hospital workers had sought a religious exemption, the state said.