LC Seeks to Expedite Relief in Maine Health Care Case at SCOTUS

Nov 18, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Liberty Counsel filed at the U.S. Supreme Court today to expedite a petition for writ of certiorari on behalf of more than 2,000 Maine health care workers. Liberty Counsel made this request because many of these employees are under increasingly dire circumstances due to COVID shot mandates. Many who requested religious exemptions are now unemployed, having been terminated on October 29, the governor’s deadline for compliance.

Liberty Counsel filed a petition November 11, asking the Supreme Court to review the full merits of the case on behalf of 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 (MaineHealth, Genesis Healthcare of Maine LLC, Genesis Healthcare LLC, Northern Light Health Foundation and MaineGeneral Health).

Gov. Mills also has threatened to revoke the licenses of all health care employers who failed to mandate that all employees receive the COVID-19 shots. Mills ordered employers to deny all religious exemptions and thus ignore the federal employment law known as Title VII that affords employees the right to request reasonable accommodation for their sincere religious beliefs.

The Supreme Court needs to resolve the splits in the circuits and the lower courts. Only three states—Maine, New York and Rhode Island—have state executive orders banning employers from even considering the sincere religious beliefs of employees. However, states do not have the authority to order employers to disobey Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which provides for religious exemptions and accommodations and requires that employers provide them.

Many people have faith-based beliefs about vaccines. Some hold sincere religious beliefs against taking vaccines of any kind, taking those derived from aborted fetal cell lines or taking those sold by companies that profit from the sale of vaccines and other products derived from abortion.

Additionally, all health care workers employed by the state of Maine also have protection for the exercise of their sincerely held religious beliefs under the First Amendment. These employees do not shed their constitutional rights upon entering government employment. Maine law provides a long-established common law right to all individuals to refuse unwanted medical care.

On October 18, Liberty Counsel filed an emergency injunction pending appeal asking the High Court for immediate relief for these health care workers until it decides to review this case. On October 29, five Justices agreed that the case met legal requirements for an emergency injunction, but two Justices (Barrett and Kavanaugh) said they were exercise their discretion to not grant the immediate relief. The human cost of such decision is now being felt by thousands of health care workers who are being terminated. The ultimate cost will be felt by people needing treatment in hospitals but who will be refused treatment due to the shortage of workers.

In the Supreme Court’s October 29 decision, Justice Neil Gorsuch dissented from the denial along with Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito. “This case presents an important constitutional question, a serious error, and an irreparable injury,” Justice 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.”

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver commented, “We are asking the Supreme Court to expedite our petition because each day these health care workers face irreparable harm. Many have been terminated and cannot find work anywhere in Maine because the hospitals and health care facilities cannot hire them under unlawful mandate. We are calling on the High Court to stop these unlawful mandates.”

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