The Covid Vaccination Mandate For Maine Health Care Employees

The Supreme Court declined to suspend a vaccination mandate for Maine’s healthcare workers on Friday, citing concerns that it lacks a religious exemption, the latest instance of the top court avoiding the matter.

The claim was filed in response to the lack of a religious exemption. The court’s decision, which was overturned by three conservative justices, enables the state mandate to remain in place while the case is being resolved.

The Covid Vaccination Mandate For Maine Health Care Employees

Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett highlighted in a concurring opinion that the court has “discretionary judgment” in deciding whether to consider an emergency appeal like the one in Maine. 

“Applicants might utilize the emergency docket to push the court” to deliver a “merits preview in cases” on a “short fuse,” she wrote if that wasn’t done. In recent weeks, the court’s emergency docket has received a lot of flak for doing just that.

The Covid Vaccination Mandate For Maine Health Care Employees

In an opinion supported by Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Barrett said, “In my judgment, this discretionary consideration counsels against a grant of exceptional relief in this case, which is the first to confront the concerns presented.”

Maine Governor Janet Mills, a Democrat, stated in August that healthcare employees will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or face losing their jobs. 

While the state provides a medical exemption for employees, religious concerns were used to remove the option for workers to opt-out of the vaccination obligation.

The Supreme Court has previously dismissed challenges to vaccination requirements made by Indiana University students and New York City teachers. However, because the requirements at issue in those other cases included a religious exemption, neither of those cases dealt with the religious component. 

In a dissent supported by Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch stated that he would have stopped the mandate.

This case raises a significant constitutional issue, as well as a major mistake and irreversible harm. Maine has taken a different path than many other states in adopting religious exemptions. Healthcare professionals who have been on the front lines of a pandemic for the past 18 months are now being dismissed, and their practices are being shut down. 

All for upholding their religious convictions, which are guaranteed by the Constitution. Their plight is worthy of our attention.

The Supreme Court’s emergency docket – often known as the “shadow docket” – is where litigants go when they need speedy action, generally to stop the implementation of a statute while the judges assess the merits of the challenger’s claims.

This November, the Supreme Court upheld Texas’ six-week abortion restriction in a shadow docket case. It had reversed President Joe Biden’s eviction embargo and compelled the government to hold migrants seeking refuge in Mexico in the weeks before that.

However, since then, the court has taken a series of odd decisions, which some have interpreted as a response to the criticism. The Texas abortion issue was moved to the merits docket so that the justices may hear arguments in the case on Monday. 

Last month, the court also rescheduled an emergency case involving a death row inmate demanding religious freedom in the execution chamber to its normal docket.

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