Logo
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Maine to religious objectors: No jab, no job

Supreme Court lets stand vaccination mandate with no religious exemption, for now


A protester against mandated vaccines for healthcare workers at the State House in Augusta, Maine Associated Press/Photo by Robert F. Bukaty, file

Maine to religious objectors: No jab, no job

Unvaccinated healthcare workers in Maine could lose their jobs after a divided U.S. Supreme Court last week declined to block temporarily a state COVID-19 vaccine mandate that permits no religious exemptions. The decision suggests a majority of the court is not yet ready to take up this contentious issue.

Friday’s ruling split the court’s conservative majority. Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh voted to deny emergency relief to healthcare workers who sued the state and several major hospital systems. Barrett, in a brief opinion joined by Kavanaugh, noted the lack of full briefing and oral argument at the case’s early juncture.

Justice Neil Gorsuch’s dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, pointed to the stakes for the physician and eight healthcare workers who sought relief. “No one questions that these individuals have served patients on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic with bravery and grace for 18 months now,” Gorsuch wrote. “Yet, with Maine’s new rule coming into effect, one of the applicants has already lost her job for refusing to betray her faith; another risks the imminent loss of his medical practice.”

The 1990 Supreme Court ruling in Employment Division v. Smith permitted a law to burden religious liberty as long as it was neutral and generally applicable. But Gorsuch argued Maine’s law failed the test because it does offer an exemption if a doctor says a shot is “medically inadvisable.”

“It seems Maine will respect even mere trepidation over vaccination as sufficient, but only so long as it is phrased in medical and not religious terms,” he wrote, saying the double standard triggered “strict scrutiny” of the law.

The conservative justice also criticized the state’s rationale for requiring 90 percent of its healthcare workers to be vaccinated, noting many other states had met their health and safety objectives while offering religious exemptions. “Maine’s decision to deny a religious exemption in these circumstances doesn’t just fail the least restrictive means test, it borders on the irrational,” he concluded.

The court’s decision does not end the case. Liberty Counsel indicated it would file a petition asking the court to review the merits of the case, not just the question of whether to block the mandate. The court could fast-track briefing and oral arguments.

Three states—Maine, New York, and Rhode Island—have vaccine mandates that allow no religious exemptions, and litigation has yielded mixed results. A federal court in Rhode Island is considering a motion to block the state’s mandate until a case there can be heard. A federal appeals court on Friday reinstated a New York vaccine mandate after a court blocked it. That ruling does not bode well for the Rhode Island appeal.

For healthcare workers in Maine, a hoped-for ruling by the Supreme Court may come too late. MaineHealth CEO Andy Mueller told WMTW-TV in Portland that between 350 and 400 employees had not received their vaccine and were expected to be terminated after the mandate went into effect last Friday. That included Jackie Zubiate, a nurse practitioner who heads up the 2,600-member Coalition for Health Care Workers Against Medical Mandates.


Steve West

Steve is a legal correspondent for WORLD. He is a graduate of World Journalism Institute, Wake Forest University School of Law, and N.C. State University. He worked for 34 years as a federal prosecutor and is now an attorney in private practice. Steve resides with his wife in Raleigh, N.C.

@slntplanet

COMMENT BELOW

Please wait while we load the latest comments...

Comments

Please register, subscribe, or login to comment on this article.


Nanamiro

Maine has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country (80.3%, 12 and up) yet they are seeing at least as many cases in the last few months (and nearly as many deaths) as last winter. Forcing vaccinations on healthcare workers is nonsensical and abusive. Clearly the vaccines are not preventing spread, so why force them on people? Don't we need medical workers during a pandemic? Weren't unvaccinated medical workers "heroes" last fall?

RCRE8109

[Comment marked as inappropriate]

TGAN9331

If you want to look more into the fetal cell line, there is much more to it. More info is out recently that is shocking. https://americasfrontlinedoctors.org/2/frontlinenews/aborted-fetal-cells-and-vaccines-a-scandal-much-bigger-than-pfizers-whistleblower-ever-imagined/
Also: https://www.cbruk.org/what_the_hek

HJOH4656

There is some doubt that the fetal origin cells that mRNA vaccines were tested on were in fact the result of a voluntary abortion. In medical terminology, abortion is any loss of pregnancy before 20 weeks. A spontaneous abortion is known in common language as a miscarriage. There is reason to think that the source of the fetal cell line HEK293t was probably a spontaneous abortion, or miscarriage: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-faqs-fetal-cells-covid-19-vaccines-treatments/. Thus, it would be no different than donating the tissue of someone who died accidentally for medical research.

JebbyHJOH4656

A spontaneous abortion would be a dead baby, with dead cells, that can't be used because they are dead, and where the mRNA would not be replicated. Any cell line that is usable that is from an abortion requires the cells to be alive when they are collected...and there must be resources available in the immediate vicinity to keep the harvested cells alive, meaning, the abortionist has to know that he/she will be harvesting the cells for that purpose. So, I think we know the answer to your question now.

HJOH4656Jebby

Actually, that does not at all answer the question, because that information is incorrect. Living cells can be harvested from dead bodies. With death, while the living organism itself dies, not all the cells that make up that organism's body die at once, some remain alive for a time after death. Decay happens slowly in dead bodies and conditions that slow decay will preserve the cells longer: https://www.livescience.com/20897-living-stem-cells-discovered-human-corpse.html.

Furthermore, mRNA does not need fetal cells to be manufactured. The mRNA is made using non-cell technology. The mRNA vaccines are manufactured using purely chemical processes, by machines that use enzymes such polymerase to construct the nucleic acids adenine, guanine, cytosine, and uracil into strands of the desired mRNA pattern. The technology for the non-cell manufacture and replication of RNA and DNA has been around since the 1970s and is used in forensic testing and archaeology, as well as medical testing and treatment. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is one such non-cell technology. The only place the mRNA vaccines used the fetal cell line was in preliminary testing to see if the vaccines worked. Most medications are first tested on cells in vitro (which means 'in glass' as petri dishes are glass) as a preliminary step to see how they effect human or animal cells. For example, the testing that seemed to indicate hydroxycholoquine and ivermectin might work against COVID 19 was in vitro testing - petri dish cells (including the HEK293 line) infected with COVID 19 had the medications added to the dish to see if the medications would kill the virus. But in vitro testing is only a first step, and testing on live subjects is necessary to ensure a medication will actually work, because cells live in much different environments within bodies than in petri dishes. Live testing showed the mRNA vaccines worked, live testing did not show that hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin worked for COVID 19.

Big Jim

Seems like with staffing shortages nearly everywhere there should be someplace for these displaced workers to go. They might have to relocate - not necessarily an easy thing.