The Supreme Court declined to block a requirement for Maine’s health workers in doctor’s offices, nursing homes, and hospitals to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, despite not offering religious exemption as an option.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer denied the emergency appeal, but justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Clarence Thomas dissented. Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barret, two other Supreme Court conservatives, agreed that the court should not take the case without a full briefing.
State officials enforced the rule on Friday. However, this was challenged by health care workers due to the mandate’s exclusion of offering the ability to request a religious exemption.
In the past, Maine allowed religious exemptions for daycare employees, health care workers, college students, and schoolchildren. However, all non-medical vaccination exemptions were eliminated by the state in 2019, because of the rapid spread of communicable diseases.
When the COVID-19 vaccine for employees was required, a healthcare workers group objected because they believed that the vaccine contains fetal cells in elective abortions.
However, none of the vaccines contain actual fetal cells. According to Moderna and Pfizer, during their vaccine testing stages, they used replicated fetal cells taken 50 years ago. Johnson and Johnson were using a different cell line.
Lawyers told the Supreme Court that the law applies to all health care workers, and is not intended to discriminate against a particular religious practice. State officials said that the COVID vaccine for employees and healthcare facilities is the most effective tool in preventing the spread of the virus.
The object of the recent amendment to the rule is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among healthcare workers in high-risk settings, protect patients and individuals from disease and death, and protect Maine’s healthcare system.
Gorsuch said the state does not give the healthcare workers equal treatment because those with medical conditions can refuse the vaccine, but those with religious objections can not. The Supreme Court Justice wrote that the case had a serious error because many states have a religious exemption for the COVID vaccine.
Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
NBC News: Supreme Court declines to block vaccine mandate for health workers in Maine; by Pete Williams
USA Today: Supreme Court won’t stop COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Maine health care workers; by John Fritze
Yahoo!: Supreme Court declines to block vaccine mandate for health workers in Maine
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