tv Washington Journal Daniel Suhr CSPAN November 1, 2021 6:00pm-6:29pm EDT
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host: a conversation on workplace vaccine mandates now with daniel suhr. he serves as managing attorney at the liberty justice center. start by explaining what the liberty justice center does and how you do it. guest: good morning. we are online at libertyjusticecenter dot or. we fight to protect constitutional rights in the birdies. right now we focus on worker freedom and protecting parents' rights in education. we are a nonprofit organization. we do what we do for our clients for free. you can find us online. host: how? do you pick your clients -- how do you pick your clients? guest: we have generous donors
who support our work and our clients often come to us. they are americans who otherwise may be could not afford legal representation but find themselves in a tough spot. it is our honor to represent them. other times we reach out and partner with clients because we believe something the government is doing is illegal. in those cases, we are proud to represent our clients and push back on government overreach. host: what should viewers know about the vaccination mandates for nurses at riverside health care in illinois? host: -- guest: one of my cases is on behalf of 57 health care employees. these nurses have been heroes in this pandemic. they have been on the front lines every day taking care of patients, serving people. unfortunately, riverside is willing to throw all of that to
the side because these employees, these nurses, will not compromise their convictions. it is not just wrong. it is illegal. the law protects the rights of these nurses to continue in their job serving their patients while at the same time holding to their faith. host: what is the status of that case? guest: the judge gave us a temporary restraining order protecting these employees and their jobs. we are going to continue litigating in the coming months, but today they can all show up at work the day after the october 31 termination deadline. my clients will still be at work because the law protects them and their right to hold onto their religious beliefs and show up for their job. host: what should viewers know about the illinois health care right of conscience act? guest: it reflects this
important principle not just for illinois but for every american that our law protects the right of the individual to make important health care choices for themselves in line with their religious or moral convictions. the illinois law is one of a number of such laws across the country that protect people. in this instance, if employees do not have to choose between their faith and their work, but really for all of us as americans, many states have these protections so we are not coerced into making these kinds of decisions that are really impossible decisions, trying to choose between something as important as our faith and our profession. host: the governor of illinois trying to amend that law and response to this lawsuit and other concerns about the mandate and the defense of those concerns, pointing to that act.
a spokesperson saying that act was never intended to allow people to avoid public health guidance and jeopardize workplace safety during a global pandemic. the administration supports efforts to clarify the law so it is not being misinterpreted by fringe elements. guest: i think this law is especially important at times like this. the constitution does not take a vacation when we are in the midst of a pandemic. it is in the hardest moments that we need the protection of the law of the law the most. though my clients' believes mina -- might not be shared by the governor, they are their beliefs and they are sincerely held and deeply held. it is moments like this, when it is tough for our country, when we are in times of trial, that we need the law to protect us the most. when things are good, when your opinion is popular among the law is not important for you because
everybody is on your side. it is when your opinions are unpopular, when we are in a time of trial, that we need the law most to protect each of us and our rights to make these choices. host: what happens in other states that do not have the law you are depending on in illinois to protect these nurses? guest: federal title vii is part of the civil rights act. it protects every employee against discrimination in a number of ways not racial discrimination, gender discrimination, but also religious discrimination. the federal agency responsible for administering title vii has put out generally good guidance for employers to say employees in any state have a religious or ethical objection to a covid-19 mandate, then employers need to respect the objection.
if there are reasonable accommodations that are available -- we have all been living with some of these safety protocols. when we use those protocols we can keep people safe, achieve reasonable safety rules, and respect the right of employees in any workplace to hold onto their religious beliefs. host: daniel suhr with the liberty justice center. taking your phone calls on phone lines split as usual. -- sorry it is phone lines split differently than usual. employers can call in at (202) 748-8000. employees, (202) 748-8001. all others, it is (202) 748-8002 . we mentioned this story today to our viewers in our first segment. thousands of new york city firefighters, police officers,
and other employees stand to lose their paychecks starting today for failing to comply with mayor bill de blasio's covid-19 and eight. the mayor's office said about 24,000 employees remain unvaccinated and are subject to the mandate. your thoughts on that deadline in new york? guest: these workers in new york have been the essential workers that we have been applauding for serving us through the hardest time to this pandemic. i think it is a shame that that service is just going to be discarded by the mayor, just tossed aside because these folks want to hold onto their individual right to choose. this is something that has always been fundamental to us as americans, that we hold onto our freedoms zealously, fiercely defensive of our freedoms. that includes our freedom to
make these sorts of important choices between us and our dr. -- doctor without the government reaching into our lives, whether as citizens or employees. i think the fact that a lot of vaccinated employees are standing in solidarity with their unvaccinated colleagues represents a widespread american sentiment that even for people who are vaccinated they respect the rights of others to make a different choice and expect their government to respect that right as well. host: are you ok with vexing mandates if they include a weekly testing component -- vaccine mandates if they include a weekly testing component? guest: weekly testing helps protect people's right to choose but we need to move away from mandates overall. this should be about people's rights to make important choices for themselves in consultation with their doctors or faith community but not have employers or the government reaching into
their lives and telling them what to do. we would not accept that as americans and other ways and we should not accept that overreach here either. host: we are having the conversation as we wait for final rules from the osha rule being crafted for businesses of 100 employees or more on vaccine mandates and to include a testing option. the white house covid-19 response gordon nader -- coordinator talked about that. [video clip] >> on osha, the team has been working to develop the emergency temporary standard that covers employees with over 100 employees -- employers with over 100 employees to ensure workers are fully vaccinated or undergoing testing on at least a one time per week basis to stop the spread in the workplace.
the agency has submitted the text of the emergency temporary standards to the office of management and budget. while we do not have a specific time to provide today, the rule will be finalized soon. we know businesses are already acting. we have seen major companies and small businesses and other organizations step up every day with vaccination requirements. host: daniel suhr on that osha rule and what you're looking for when it does come out. guest: as soon the osha rule is published, we will see the biden administration in court. it is illegal and unconstitutional. the act is meant to protect people in their workplace against toxic substances. these emergency rules are only
available for the gravest of dangers. with the osha act is not firm is regulating our entire society when it comes to something like a pandemic. that is an authority for states. there is a reason we have seen all these orders come from governors rather than the white house. it is because public health is a state responsibility. while the federal government is proposing is an infringement on the fundamental state prerogative to be the responsible authority for public health. the biden administration tried to this before with eviction mandates. the cdc is not the nation landlord regulator. osha is not the public health regulator. like the supreme court struck down the eviction moratorium, i expect courts will strike down this moratorium. host: about 15 minutes left with
daniel suhr with the liberty justice center. we will start with catherine in south carolina, that line for all others. go ahead. caller: i have looked through the osha manual. there is no legality to what osha is doing at all. i have been through this manual 18 times. legally, they do not have the authority at all. the president has push this through osha with knowledge that they do not have the authority. and to mandate it to these corporations who are private corporations is illegal and he knows it. host: -- guest: i could not agree with you more and good for you for getting through the manual.
i think your comment is right. the president -- we saw this on eviction mandates, where the white house knew it did not have the legal authority. it was under pressure from far left elements of its party. it caved to the pressure and then they got struck down in court. we are seeing the same show again where the white house knows they are on the edge were beyond legal authorities. they have said in the past there would not be nationwide mandates. now there are. like last time, when they exceed legal authority, we are going to take them to court. states are going to take them to court. we are going to represent private employers and employees. courts are going to say this goes beyond what the manual permits, what the law permits, what the constitution permits. they are going to strike it down. host: phone lines split by
employers, employees, and all others. paul in indiana, good morning. what kind of work do you do and is there a mandate for vaccines at your work? caller: there is not, but i am for employee mandates. i thought this was for the federal court to rule. i do not want to go to a workplace where people are infected. people's rights end at their nose. they do not have a right to spread a disease. god forbid i have a stroke or a heart attack or i am in a car wreck and i cannot get an emergency room because 10 people , 10 medical workers are tied up handling a person with covid-19 when they could walk into a pharmacy and get a covid-19.
i do not see the problem. i had the flu shot, the smallpox vaccine, and the last shot was for smallpox given to school-age children in 1972. i do not see what the problem is. people go to school and everything. they should have their shots. host: go ahead, daniel suhr. guest: thanks for calling. we all want and deserve safe workplaces. that can be accomplished without infringing on individual rights and liberties. we can have reasonable accommodations like masking got regular testing, social distancing. sometimes people can work different shifts.
there are ways we can adapt smart, simple tools we were using pre-vaccine that help manage the spread. we can respect the right of people to make these choices for themselves. you make a good point about concerns for hospital capacity. one thing i am about is is -- is if they lay off these nurses and doctors and health care workers who are not willing to compromise their convictions. if they had terminated these 68 employees i represent, they would not be available to do their jobs and health care. think about the new york example . we are talking about tens of thousands of city workers who are essential, who pick up the trash, who provide public safety , who work in fire departments. if we lay all those people off because they are not willing to compromise their convictions, we
are going to see problems in hospitals and other places in an already tight labor market. i think mask mandates are different because they are less invasive. problematic about vaccines is that is the sort of irreversible medical decision that is something people can do only i think in consultation with their doctors based on individual circumstances. mask mandates are different. they should still comply with the law. we have seen some courts rightly strike them down because they exceed the power of an executive without some other democratic oversight or involvement from the legislature but i think they are different from vaccines. host: james, go ahead with your
question or comment. caller: i am going to say it seems like the anti-vaxxers are politically motivated. they say the vaccine can be deadly, but they do not know if it is or not. until dr. fauci and the other scientists say it is dangerous, we should go off their word. guest: i want to be very clear. i am personally vaccinated. my wife is vaccinated. i am not anti-vaccine. i am antigovernment overreach. that is an aborted distinction. we should respect medical science. i am grateful for the work medical science and health overall has done to protect us in the midst of this pandemic, but i think you can be
respectful of my right to choose to be vaccinated and at the same time respect the right of other americans to make a different choice based on their personal medical condition or their moral or religious belief. we can respect each other's rights, including respecting each other's rights to make the choice for ourselves. host: on thursday this week, dr. fauci will be back on capitol hill alongside the head of the cdc testifying on the biden administration's covid-19 response before the senate health committee. you can watch live at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span3. you can also watch online at c-span.org and full coverage on our c-span now video app. philip is in minnesota. caller: i have two questions. i am 70 years old and
vaccinated, just received my booster shot. the lawyer talked about religious conviction. apparently people are protesting on religious principle. i was curious if people respond the same way now they did to the polio vaccine -- you talk about freedom of choice but your freedom of choice can affect other people so they can die. to me, everybody wants freedom of choice. what about the responsibility to protect other people's rights? guest: those are both good and fair questions. for my client in illinois, the religious objection to the vaccine stems from their pro-life convictions. they are not all catholic. many of my clients in illinois come from a variety of christian
faith backgrounds. they are all deeply pro-life. that conviction is not a political conviction. it is a religious belief about what the bible says about life in the womb. they know how these vaccines were developed either from a research side or a production side involving fetal tissue. they have a religious, moral objection to these vaccines. it is similar to the flu in that way. there are people who have moral or religious objections to flu vaccines because of the aborted stem cell tissue involved in the development. like the illinois department of public health has a vaccine exemption for the flu, we should see the same for covid for people's deeply held religious beliefs. your question is equally important to tackle.
this is why the concept of reasonable accommodation is so important. we have an obligation to our neighbor come out to our coworkers to keep that person safe just as much as to respect our own individual choices in this matter. that is why doing things like masking or regular testing can be good steps that can respect the rights of others in a healthy workplace environment while still recognizing each individual's right to make that choice for themselves in consultation with their doctor or faith leader. host: the use of fetal cells -- it is my understanding the vaccines do not contain fetal cell components. you're talking about the testing phase here of the vaccine? guest: as i understand it, one does use fetal, stem cell tissue
and the way the vaccine is physically developed, but even for the pfizer and moderna vaccines for the research component of that process took place using fetal stem cell research from aborted fetuses. for people who are deeply pro-life, the research method itself is deeply problematic because of the physical tissue used in doing the scientific research in the lab. they have a religious objection to this. to some extent, it is not even necessary for them to be able to defend on a rational or philosophical basis there conviction. we do not ask people to defend the rationality of their religious convictions. we just ask that they be sincerely held. for my clients, who are willing to lose their jobs over this, these are sincerely held beliefs and the law respect them for it.
host: two more phone calls on that line for employers. ron in new hampshire, good morning. caller: westchester field, new hampshire. i have a suggestion. it would be awesome if you guys went back to having another talking head on the other site of things present. that way your viewers could get both sides of everything from the top of the line people that know things. host: i appreciate that. i assure you we do try to put those roundtables you are talking about. it will be easier once we can have people around the same roundtable again when it is safe to do that and have folks back here to talk with each other the same table. we are getting there. caller: i am very honored to speak with your guest this morning. daniel, thank you very much for coming on and speaking with us. i believe the nurses and any
woman that does not wish to be vaccinated should not have to be vaccinated. at the same point in time as an employer, i believe employees and workplaces should have their own safety protocol because they have osha guidelines they have to go by as well as other things. the way i see it is people who do not wish to be vaccinated should not get vaccinated. employers should be able to mandate. if people that do not want to be vaccinated wish to still work, maybe they should find in these nurses' cases a hospital that allows unvaccinated people to work. as an employer, i would not want someone coming to work you just drink a case of beer. it is their right to drink a case of beer, but they are a danger to themselves and possibly to others. i believe they both have rights,
but i believe the hospital is within their rights to mandate vaccines if they wish for the safety of employees and customers. host: what line of work are you in? how many employees do you have? caller: right now, not many africa covid and everything that has hit and the way the economy has been. i have a small cleaning company in the northeast. host: sir -- daniel suhr? guest: as a general manner, i am a free-market guy. one of the other things we do is we defend small businesses like yours from overreaching government regulation. we need to respect the rights of employers in this context, but our national government has struck the balance on how the respect should work with title vii of the civil rights act. that says when an employee has a
sincerely held religious belief the employer and employee should figure out if that belief is an undue burden on the employer. if it is not the employer and employee should work together to find a reasonable accommodation that allows the employee to continue living out their faith while at the same time continuing in their job. that is the balance the law has struck. i think that is a good balance and reflects our country's commitment to religious liberty for all of us. this is one of those instances where people are willing to show a little grace and goodwill toward one another. we can come to reasonable compromises. as much as we can, keep the economy moving, keep businesses in business and hiring and allow people to continue working. host: daniel suhr, the managing attorney at the liberty justice center. we appreci