SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly voted last month to amend the Health Care Right of Conscience Act specifically to address the COVID-19 vaccine. They said they wanted to clarify that religious protections in the law weren’t intended to exempt people with objections during a deadly pandemic. They noted that federal law has protections for religious objections. Constitutional scholars contradict the claim in interviews with The Associated Press. Douglas Laycock of the University of Virginia points out that the Constitution’s free exercise clause has historically yielded to life-saving vaccine requirements. Cornell’s Nelson Tebbe says lawsuits in Maine and New York are testing that precedent.