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WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer refused to take up a case for an emergency injunction pending appeal (IPA) filed by the Liberty Counsel for over 2,000 healthcare workers in Maine who face punitive action for refusing the state’s vax mandate.
This continues the trend of justices refusing to hear cases on the mandates. Justice Sonia Sotomayor refused to take a case on behalf of New York teachers and Justice Amy Coney Barrett on behalf of Indiana University students earlier this year.
However, Liberty Counsel stated in a press release that Breyer left an opening by denying the case “without prejudice” which allows it to be refiled if lower courts do not rule on the matter by Friday, Oct. 29.
The original IPA was filed by Liberty Counsel on Oct. 15 as it named Maine Gov. Janet Mills as well as various health agencies as the defendants.
“Because of the deadline imposed by Defendants’ unconstitutional, unlawful, and unconscionable demands that Applicants violate their sincerely held religious conscience by TODAY, October 15, 2021, relief cannot wait another day,” the court filing states. “Plaintiffs and other healthcare workers in Maine are already being told not to report to work tomorrow absent Court-ordered relief or violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs. For many years prior to the instant action and in strict compliance with federal law, Defendants permitted healthcare workers in the State of Maine to apply for and receive religious exemptions to mandatory vaccine requirements. Yet, on August 14, 2021, Maine stripped all protections for religious objectors to any vaccination requirement in conjunction with its emergency declaration that all healthcare workers in Maine receive a COVID-19 vaccination.”
In a press release announcing that filing, Liberty Counsel argued the mandates violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment while are discriminatory in nature by denying religious exemptions. It also violates the Civil Rights Act, the release stated, and the healthcare workers have been threatened with revocation of their licenses by Mills.
“We are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and give immediate relief to these health care heroes against Governor Janet Mills’ illegal edict. The governor cannot override federal law and force health care workers to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs by forcing them to inject an experimental substance. All Maine health care workers have the legal right to request reasonable accommodation for their sincerely held religious beliefs and forcing COVID shots without exemptions is unlawful,” said Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel’s founder and chairman.
After Breyer’s initial ruling, Liberty Counsel filed an injunction pending disposition of the petition for writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court and Breyer “has ordered Governor Janet Mills, health officials of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and five of Maine’s largest hospital systems to respond by Monday, October 25, to Liberty Counsel’s request for immediate relief for health care workers until it decides to review the case,” on Thursday, according to a press release.