Supreme Court Again Declines to Block Maine’s Vaccine Requirement

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. November 1, 2021

​The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 29 again declined an application for emergency relief to block Maine's mandate for health care workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, a requirement that allows no religious exemptions. We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other media outlets.

Three Justices Dissented

Justice Stephen Breyer had previously declined to block the requirement on Oct. 19. After an appeals court also refused to block the mandate, the plaintiffs again appealed to the Supreme Court, which declined in a brief order to halt the mandate from going forward.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito Jr., wrote in a dissent, "Where many other states have adopted religious exemptions, Maine has charted a different course. There, health care workers who have served on the front line of a pandemic for the last 18 months are now being fired and their practices shuttered. All for adhering to their constitutionally protected religious beliefs. Their plight is worthy of our attention."

(SHRM Online) and (The New York Times)

Temporary Order that Let Workers Seek Religious Exemption Removed

A federal appellate court on Oct. 29 removed a temporary order that had let health care workers in New York seek religious exemptions to the state's COVID-19 vaccination mandate. New York's law now permits exemptions for medical, but not religious, reasons. A lawyer representing three nurses who challenged the mandate said he would petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

(The Wall Street Journal)

Sotomayor Declined to Block New York City's Vaccination Mandate

On Oct. 1, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor declined to block New York City's COVID-19 vaccination mandate for all city Department of Education employees. A federal appeals court on Sept. 27 ruled in New York City's favor on the vaccine mandate.

(SHRM Online)

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Indiana University's Policy Upheld

In August, the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of Indiana University's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees and students, leaving in place the rulings of lower courts in favor of the university's requirements. Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied students' challenge of the mandate.

(SHRM Online)

Nineteen States Sued U.S. over Federal Contractor Vaccination Mandate

Nineteen states have sued to block the COVID-19 vaccination mandate that applies to federal contractors. Florida sued in one lawsuit on Oct. 28. Ten states—Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming—sued in another lawsuit Oct. 29. Seven states—Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia—sued as a separate group the same day. Texas brought its own lawsuit then as well.


States Promised to Challenge Vaccine-or-Testing Mandate

The attorneys general of 24 states have promised to challenge the Biden administration's anticipated mandate that employers with at least 100 employees require workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced Sept. 14 that his office has filed a complaint against the Biden administration over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal employees, federal contractors and private businesses with at least 100 employees.

(SHRM Online)



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