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A small federal administrative agency will start to collect the “personal religious information” of its own employees who object to taking coronavirus vaccines for religious reasons.
The Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Colombia, which assists judicial officers in the D.C. court system, announced on Tuesday its “intent to create the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia Privacy Act system of records, the ‘Employee Religious Exception Request Information System.'”
The agency said:
This system of records maintains personal religious information collected in response to religious accommodation requests for religious exception from the federally mandated vaccination requirement in the context of a public health emergency or similar health and safety incident, such as a pandemic, epidemic, natural disaster or national or regional emergency; and/or any other lawful collection of employee information or data that is necessary to ensure a safe and healthy environment for individuals who are occupying PSA facilities, attending PSA-sponsored events, or otherwise engaged in official business on behalf of the Agency. The system of records will assist the Agency in the collection, storing, dissemination, and disposal of employee religious exemption request information collected and maintained by the Agency, as referenced above.
The Daily Signal speculated that the move could “serve as a model for a whole-of-government push to assemble lists of Americans who object on religious grounds to a COVID-19 vaccine.”
The move comes as the Supreme Court is considering whether Democrat President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate is constitutional after hearing four hours of oral arguments over two of the administration’s vaccine mandates last Friday.
“I think there may be a split ruling out of the court,” Center for American Liberty CEO and civil rights attorney Harmeet Dhillon predicted. “I think on the case…challenging the large employer mandate, it looks to me like we have five or six votes to enjoin that order,” she said. “But on the one regarding medical facilities, because the order is tied to federal funding, I think there are some different arguments there and the justices seem more likely to uphold that OSHA mandate on medical facilities.”
“Today is day one when the compliance is supposed to be occurring and that’s true for 80 million employees around the country,” Dhillon said, “so the fact the court is still sitting on this and hasn’t ruled yet produces tremendous expense, uncertainty, stress and disruption to the American economy. I really hope for the sake of all those employees, employers that the court rules quickly so that we can move on and arrange our affairs accordingly.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.