Religious Liberty issue image

Does v. Mills

Court Type: U.S. Supreme Court
Status: Closed (Judgment)
Last Update: October 29, 2021

What's at Stake

Whether a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for Maine healthcare workers is unconstitutional because it does not include a religious exemption.

Summary

Employees in Maine’s healthcare sector challenged a state-wide COVID-19 vaccine requirement because it does not have a religious exemption. After a federal district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit denied the plaintiffs’ motion to preliminarily enjoin the state from enforcing the vaccine requirement, they sought emergency relief from the Supreme Court.

In our amicus brief, submitted with the ACLU of Maine, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and a number of religious organizations, we urged the Court to deny the application for emergency relief, explaining that allowing healthcare workers to remain unvaccinated for religious reasons would harm others, including patients and co-workers, by heightening their risk of exposure to a serious and deadly disease. Our brief also pointed out that the Court has repeatedly reaffirmed that religious freedom does not give religious objectors general immunity from secular laws, especially where the requested religious exemption would harm others. We also noted a long line of court decisions, going back more than 100 years, which make clear that the Constitution does not require religious exemptions from vaccination mandates.

In February 2022, the Court denied the healthcare workers’ petition for emergency relief.

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