On May 28, the New York Law Journal published an article called “State Bar Group Calls for ‘Mandatory’ COVID-19 Vaccinations, Regardless of Objections.” The headline itself was jolting enough. I thought it was clickbait, but my morbid curiosity made me open it. When I did, I was dismayed to discover that a section of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) proposed in a report mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all adults, regardless of “religious, philosophical or personal reasons.” I could not believe this was being advocated in America. To my knowledge, no other bar association in this country is advocating such a position. To be fair, the section’s proposal has not yet been voted on by the full membership. The fact, however, that NYSBA commissioned a section to come up with this report, speaks to its relevancy.

NYSBA’s membership has been declining for years and the decisions to commission this report and remain silent as Governor Cuomo determined lawyers weren’t “essential” are part of the reasons for the decline. More specifically, NYSBA took no action in response to Governor Cuomo’s March 20 COVID-19 lockdown order, which failed to include lawyers in the list of essential workers. According to Law360, New York and Michigan were the only two states that failed to declare all lawyers essential. In my March 22 Daily News op-ed, I challenged Cuomo’s failure to designate criminal defense attorneys as essential. That same weekend, the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NYSACDL) did the same. By Sunday, March 23, criminal defense lawyers were deemed “essential.” That same week, Fox News invited me to speak about my op-ed, and there, I criticized Cuomo’s failure to include all lawyers as essential.