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Supreme Court will not block Maine’s vaccination mandate for healthcare workers

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Supreme Court will not block Maine’s vaccination mandate for healthcare workers

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Judge Sandra L. Lynch, writing for the panel, said the regulation did not choose religion for unfavorable treatment. In a 1990 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that neutral laws of general application that incidentally impose burdens on religion generally do not violate the First Amendment protection of religious freedom. This decision, Employment Division v. Smith, has come under heavy criticism from the more conservative members of the Supreme Court.

In a series of recent decisions on pandemic-related restrictions on religious gatherings, the Supreme Court has also ruled that religious activities should be treated at least as well as comparable secular activities.

Plaintiffs in the Maine case said the state was an outlier in refusing to grant religious exemptions.

“Almost every other state,” they told judges, “have found a way to protect themselves from the same virus without trampling on religious freedom – including states that have a smaller population and a much larger territory than that. Maine. While Vermont, New Hampshire, Alaska, the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, California, and the District of Columbia can all find ways to protect themselves from Covid-19 and respect individual liberty, Maine does. can also. “

The complainants also argued that state regulations were not generally applicable because they allowed medical exemptions. Lynch J. rejected this argument, saying that the medical exemption was in line with the objectives the regulation intended to achieve. “Providing healthcare workers with medically contraindicated vaccines would threaten the health of these workers and thereby compromise both their own health and their ability to provide care,” she wrote.

In an emergency request urging the Supreme Court to intervene, lawyers for the workers wrote that “countless numbers of Maine employees will have to decide, within days, what is most important to them – their deeply religious beliefs. or their ability to work anywhere in their state to be able to feed their families.

Aaron M. Frey, Attorney General of Maine, responded that the plaintiffs “did not properly articulate their choices.”

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