CALGARY – An American lawyer who has backed religious freedoms, winning big Supreme Court cases, says trying to get religious exemption from vaccination warrants is a losing battle.
Douglas Laycock fought successfully for a baker who refused to create a cake for a gay couple and for a company that would not cover emergency contraceptives for employees.
But he says those who claim religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine mandates could easily be turned down.
âConstitutional rights are susceptible of exceptions or derogations by what the Supreme Court calls an imperative interest of the government. And endangering the physical safety of others is sort of the classic overriding interest of government. That one always matters, âsaid the University of Virginia law professor.
âThese people don’t just endanger themselves, they endanger everyone around them. And they don’t have the right to do that.
The United States, like Canada, has had to deny people healthcare as unvaccinated COVID patients overwhelm the system.
Canadian laws also leave little room for the religious exemption argument.
âI think it would be a very difficult case to do. Someone should come forward and say, âI have a sincere spiritual belief that getting the vaccine is wrong or wrong,â said Richard Moon, professor of law at the University of Windsor.
Not to mention that the leaders of the largest religious institutions in North America have approved the vaccines.
âMost of the requests for religious immunization exemptions have been bogus,â Laycock added.
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He cites research published in the Hastings Law Journal which shows that most people who claim religious exemptions are against vaccines for personal reasons.
Despite this, many institutions and organizations allow employees to apply for a religious exemption, such as the Calgary Catholic School District.
The City of Calgary’s mandate also leaves the door open to requests for religious exemptions.
âSometimes people are just looking to avoid the burden of complaints or litigation,â Moon said.