Maine Health Care Workers Ask Appeals Court To Protect Their Identities

Jun 22, 2022

BANGOR, ME – Liberty Counsel has filed a motion to stay pending appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in response to federal Judge Jon Levy’s ruling to require the public disclosure of Liberty Counsel’s clients in Jane Does 1–6, et al.,v. Janet Mills, et al. The plaintiffs are challenging the Maine law that requires employees of designated Maine health care facilities to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 shot. 

Judge Levy ordered the plaintiffs, eight Maine health care workers and one individual health care provider, to reveal their identities by July 8, 2022. 

Two media companies—MTM Acquisition, Inc. (Portland Press Herald, Maine Sunday Telegram, Kennebec Journal, and Morning Sentinel) and SJ Acquisition, Inc. (Sun Journal) want to expose the identities of these health care workers. In fact, these media corporations waited until November 10, 2021, to move to intervene which proves that their “alleged injury” is purely farce due to the fact that the case was originally filed in August. 

Without this stay, the plaintiffs will suffer irreparable injury, hardship and inequity by having to irreversibly disclose their identities to the public while the question of their protection is under consideration on appeal. Their identities are known to the defendants, but the media wants to expose them to the public so that they will be harassed and threatened.

Liberty Counsel represents more than 2,000 Maine health care workers against Maine Gov. Janet Mills, health officials of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and five of the state’s largest hospital systems. Mills ordered employers to deny all religious exemptions and ignore the federal employment law known as Title VII that affords employees the right to request reasonable accommodation for their sincere religious beliefs. Many of these health care workers who requested religious exemptions are now unemployed, having been terminated on October 29, the governor’s deadline for compliance. 

From the outset of the litigation, the complaint, pleadings, filings, proceedings and court orders have been open to the public, and the media was allowed access to all hearings. Yet, these media corporations contend that allowing plaintiffs to proceed under pseudonyms “deprives” their “presumptive rights of access to court proceedings and records.” 

The First Amendment guarantees the freedom of speech and press and prohibits the government from closing courtroom doors. Media corporations already have the qualified First Amendment access they seek. However, plaintiffs have the right to privacy in legal proceedings to protect them from medical disclosure and from harassment and harm. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The media has no legitimate need to broadcast the names of our health care workers to the public. The media merely wants a story, and frankly, some of the media would like to see our clients harassed and threatened into silence. These health care heroes deserve the privacy from public disclosure.” 

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