By CHRISTIAN WADE
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up a challenge to Maine’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.
The lawsuit, filed in August by the Florida-based Liberty Counsel on behalf of more than 2,000 Maine health care workers, alleges that the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is violating federal law by requiring vaccinations for healthcare workers without allowing a religious exemption for those who object.
On Tuesday, the justices rejected the group’s motion to present oral arguments in the case without comment, per the high court’s practice. The high court has rejected two previous requests for injunctions against the vaccine rules.
An executive order signed by Gov. Janet Mills, which went into effect in October, requires healthcare workers in Maine to be fully vaccinated against the virus. The requirement includes healthcare workers in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, firefighters, emergency medical service and dental workers.
Only medical exemptions are allowed, not religious or philosophical.
The Mills administration said the rules, which were enacted during a surge of COVID-19 cases last year, are needed to prevent further outbreaks.
The vaccine mandate is backed by the Maine Medical Association and Maine Hospital Association and several other healthcare groups, which say it will protect public health.
But the Liberty Counsel argued that religious objections to the vaccines must be allowed under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the First Amendment.
“Many people hold sincere religious beliefs against taking any vaccines, or 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,” the group’s lawyers wrote in court filings.