Supreme Court justice declines to immediately halt enforcement of Maine vaccination mandate for healthcare workers

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has rejected a request from healthcare workers to immediately block enforcement of Maine's COVID-19 vaccination mandate based on their religious objections, according to The Washington Post and The New York Times.

In an order issued Oct. 19, Mr. Breyer did not refer the workers' application to the full Supreme Court and declined to immediately halt enforcement of the mandate, which took effect Oct. 1 but won't be enforced until Oct. 29.

Mr. Breyer, who handles such requests from Maine, issued his order after Judge Jon D. Levy of the Federal District Court in Maine, ruled against the unnamed plaintiffs last week, according to media reports. A panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston also declined to halt the mandate as the workers' case proceeded.

Healthcare workers say the state's vaccination mandate requires them "to accept a vaccination that violates their sincerely held religious beliefs" because Maine's requirement does not allow for religious exemptions.

"Maine is required to abide by federal law and provide protections to employees who have sincerely held religious objections to the COVID-19 vaccines. And, here, the federal law is clear: There can be no dispute that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits Defendants from discriminating against plaintiffs on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs," according to the workers' emergency petition to the Supreme Court.

Mr. Breyer said workers could file a new application with the Supreme Court after the appeals court issues a decision on the merits of the appeal, or if the appeals court does not issue a decision by Oct. 29.

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