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US Supreme Court declines to stop mandated COVID-19 vaccines for Maine health workers

The enforcement for health care workers to get the COVID vaccine begins on Oct. 29.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Editor's note: The above video on a federal judge ruling not to halt vaccine mandate aired Oct. 13.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to stop mandating COVID-19 vaccines for Maine health workers Tuesday.

Justice Stephen Breyer rejected the emergency appeal Tuesday but left the door open to try again as the clock ticks on Maine’s mandate. 

The state will begin enforcing it Oct. 29. Workers who don’t comply risk losing their jobs. It was the first time the Supreme Court weighed in on a statewide vaccine mandate. 

The court previously rejected challenges of vaccine requirements for New York City teachers and Indiana University staff and students.

Eight health care workers and a provider had filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Janet Mills' mandate saying it violates their constitutional rights because there is no religious exemption. The governor rejected a call on Oct. 13 by some lawmakers and hospital administrators to delay enforcement of an Oct. 29 deadline for health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

MaineHealth spokesperson John Porter gave the following statement to NEWS CENTER Maine:

"We have no comment on this specific ruling, other than to say we continue to support vaccinating our full care team, as it is the best way to keep our colleagues, patients and the communities we serve as safe as possible during the pandemic."

Northern Light Health spokesperson Andrew Soucier said in a statement:

"As a supporter of the state’s choice to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of mandated vaccines for healthcare workers, Northern Light Health is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision to decline to grant a preliminary injunction that would have halted the vaccine requirement. We continue to believe that the COVID-19 vaccine is the best tool we have to bring the pandemic to an end, and we will be fully compliant with the mandate by the October 29 deadline."

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said:

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court is ready to consider this case if we do not get relief at the First Circuit Court of Appeals or if the lower court does not rule by October 29. As of Monday, our case is now fully briefed at the court of appeals. We look forward to an expedited ruling. There is no question that Gov. Janet Mills cannot nullify federal law and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” 

NEWS CENTER Maine STORIES