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Supreme Court permits Maine's healthcare worker vaccine mandate to go into effect without any religious exemptions

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On Friday, the United States Supreme Court declined to grant a temporary injunction against a Maine law that mandated vaccination for all healthcare workers, without providing any exemptions for religious objectors. The court's four liberal justices did not explain why they chose not to grant the injunction, although Justices Gorsuch, Alito, and Thomas issued a lengthy dissent from the majority's decision, and Justices Barrett and Kavanaugh indicated in a concurrence that they might be willing to eventually overturn the law, after full briefing and argument. Thus, the plaintiffs' challenge to the Maine law may not be permanently dead, although healthcare workers in Maine will for now be forced to choose between getting the vaccine and at least temporarily losing their jobs.

The law in question was enacted in Maine in 2019 before the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, and eliminated religious exemptions for the state's general vaccine requirements for healthcare workers. According to the New York Times, the state promulgated a regulation in August of 2021 that added the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of vaccines covered by the law, and required all health care workers in the state to be vaccinated by October 29th. A number of healthcare workers sued, arguing that the regulation infringed on their First Amendment rights.

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