Supreme Court denies request to block vaccine mandate for Maine health care workers

In response to a statewide vaccine mandate for health care personnel, many workers across Maine applied for an exemption.

While these individuals hoped to receive some judicial relief from the U.S. Supreme Court this week, however, justices refused to issue an emergency order in the case. 

“Denied without prejudice”

According to Newsweek, the Maine mandate requires all health care workers in the state to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 29, with very few exceptions.

A federal district court ruled against the workers seeking an exemption, which prompted litigants to take the case to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals where they sought an emergency order blocking the mandate while their appeal was being considered.

That request was also denied and the case advanced to the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, Justice Stephen Breyer weighed in on the debate.

“The application is denied without prejudice to applicants filing a new application after the Court of Appeals issues a decision on the merits of the appeal, or if the Court of Appeals does not issue a decision by October 29, 2021,” he order declared.

Following Breyer’s decision, the lower appeals court ruled against the health care workers. As it stands, the only hope plaintiffs have in the courts is another appeal to the Supreme Court.

“Completely illegal and unconstitutional”

Furthermore, prior precedent does not appear to favor the health care workers. In the case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the Supreme Court determined that states could mandate smallpox vaccinations.

Earlier this month, the high court refused to step in to prevent a rule forcing vaccines on public school teachers in New York City to go into effect.

Similarly, justices ruled in August against issuing an injunction barring Indiana University from compelling students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

On a federal level, President Joe Biden has announced a series of increasingly sweeping mandates impacting federal workers, contractors, and workers at private businesses with more than 100 employees.

A number of prominent conservatives have responded by arguing that the federal government does not have the authority to implement such requirements. Last month, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asserted that the mandates are “completely illegal and unconstitutional.”

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