Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett side with liberal justices, decline to block Maine's vaccine mandate for health workers with religious objections

On Monday, October 4, 2021, the Supreme Court can be seen in its entirety. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Healthcare workers who wanted to avoid a mandated vaccine were denied by the Supreme Court.

The court refused to stop Maine from mandating that religiously-exempt individuals get vaccinated.

The liberal justices were represented by Justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh.

The Supreme Court ruled Friday that Maine could not require vaccine mandates for health workers who are religiously opposed.

Maine mandates that all healthcare workers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Maine does not allow religious exemptions.

Healthcare workers requested an emergency order from Supreme Court to block religious objections.

The court voted 6-3 with Trump-appointees Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and John Roberts voting for the liberal justices.

Although the majority of the judges did not offer a reason, conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch joined Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito in issuing a lengthy dissent.

"Unlike similar rules in other States, Maine's law does not provide an exemption for people whose religious beliefs prevent them from receiving the vaccine," Gorsuch wrote. He also noted that healthcare workers who sought relief under the rule were on the frontlines during the pandemic.

He continued, "Yet with Maine's new regulation coming into effect. One of the applicants has already lost their job because she refused to betray her faith. Another risks the imminent loss his medical practice."

Barrett was joined by Kavanaugh as a concurring opinion. They briefly commented on their decision not to grant the request. Shadow docket cases don't involve oral arguments, or full rulings as they do in normal cases.

Barrett stated that the shadow docket shouldn't be used in such a case and that the court shouldn't make this decision "on an instant without benefit of full briefing," meaning she and Kavanaugh could both vote differently if the case was presented to the court in a different manner.

Continue the story

For decades, Maine required that healthcare workers receive certain vaccines. A state law was amended to remove religious and philosophical exemptions in 2019, just before the pandemic. According to The New York Times, 73% of Maine voters voted in favor of the law. The law went into effect in September 2019.

Barrett rejected in August a request by Indiana University to stop its vaccine requirement for students. However, she didn't give a reason. She made the decision on her own, without consulting any other justices as emergency appeals allow. This suggests that she didn't believe there was much legal basis for the request.

Business Insider has the original article.