Health care workers at hospitals and nursing homes throughout the state risk losing their jobs if they are not vaccinated and religious exemptions are not being offered.
Three justices – Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito – signed on to a dissent written by Gorsuch, who suggested they would have adhered to the request from Maine health care workers.
“This case presents an important constitutional question, a serious error, and an irreparable injury,” Gorsuch wrote. “Where many other States have adopted religious exemptions, Maine has charted a different course. There, healthcare workers who have served on the front line of a pandemic for the last 18 months are now being fired and their practices shuttered. All for adhering to their constitutionally protected religious beliefs.”
“Their plight is worthy of our attention,” Gorsuch added. “I would grant relief.”
In a statement agreeing with the court’s unwillingness to involve itself in the matter, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was joined by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, said the court has “discretionary judgment” on whether to take emergency appeals like this and claimed the court was being asked to “grant extraordinary relief.”
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills ordered Maine’s vaccine requirement. A federal judge in Maine declined to stop the mandate, concluding that a lawsuit was unlikely to succeed. The Oct. 13 decision prompted a flurry of appeals that landed, for a second time, in the Supreme Court.
The Liberty Counsel, which filed the lawsuit, claimed to be representing more than 2,000 health care workers who don’t want to be forcibly vaccinated.
In August, Barrett denied an appeal from students at Indiana University to block the school’s vaccine mandate.