Maine health care workers return to Supreme Court

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Maine health care workers have returned to the Supreme Court seeking an injunction against a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, one day after Justice Stephen G. Breyer rejected their request.

Justice Breyer had left the door open for the medical workers to bring their base back to the justices if the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit declined to issue an injunction. The appellate court did just that on Wednesday.

The group promptly appealed again.

“We have returned to the U.S. Supreme Court to obtain relief for these health care heroes against Governor Janet Mills’ illegal edict. There is no question that Gov. Janet Mills cannot nullify federal law and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. All Maine health care workers have the legal right to request reasonable accommodation for their sincerely held religious beliefs,” said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, which is representing the health care workers.

Justice Breyer’s move marked the third time a justice has refused to step in and block a vaccine mandate since August.

Maine health care workers had asked the Supreme Court to halt the vaccine mandate in the state, where more than 2,000 nurses and medical techs oppose the Democratic governor’s requirement to get vaccinated by Oct. 29 or get fired. They say the mandate from Ms. Mills runs afoul of federal law because it does not provide them with a religious exemption.

The 1st Circuit declined to grant them an injunction while the legality of the mandate is being debated.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, though, has granted New York health care workers an injunction while their case is pending.

The circuit court split could prompt the Supreme Court to get involved.

The Maine case is the third vaccine mandate challenge to come before the justices.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett refused to grant an injunction in August to students at the University of Indiana who challenged the school’s requirement for them to get the shot.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor this month rejected a request to block the vaccine requirement for New York City public school teachers.

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