Maine can bar religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandate, judge rules

Maine can bar religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandate, judge rules

Oct 13 (Reuters) – A U.S. judge dominated on Wednesday that Maine can bar religious exemptions to its requirement that healthcare employees within the state get vaccinated towards COVID-19, a day after a judge ordered New York to enable such exemptions to its mandate.

U.S. District Judge Jon Levy in Bangor, Maine, stated the healthcare employees who introduced the case haven’t been prevented from staying true to their religious beliefs, though refusing the vaccine will value them their jobs.

The employees additionally failed to present Maine officers have been motivated by an improper animus towards faith or that the state lacked a compelling motive to impose the vaccine requirement, stated Levy, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama.

“All Maine healthcare workers have the legal right to request reasonable accommodation for their sincerely held religious beliefs and forcing COVID shots without exemptions is unlawful,” stated Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, a Christian authorized advocacy group that represented the employees.

The group filed an attraction with 1st U.S. Circuit Court docket of Appeals in Boston and requested the ruling be placed on maintain in the course of the attraction course of.

COVID-19 vaccines have turn out to be extremely politicized in the USA, the place solely 66% of People are vaccinated, nicely in need of the preliminary targets of the Biden administration.

Maine Governor Janet Mills introduced her state’s mandate on Aug. 12, and employees have till Oct. 29 to comply.

Exemptions have been allowed for medical causes. In contrast to most states, Maine doesn’t enable for religious or philosophical exemptions to vaccine necessities.

The plan was challenged by a bunch of healthcare employees who stated they opposed COVID-19 vaccines as a result of some vaccines have been developed from cell strains of aborted fetuses. The employees additionally sued a number of healthcare firms the place they work.

Maine eliminated religious exemptions from mandated vaccines in 2019 and voters overwhelming rejected a referendum difficult the legislation final 12 months. In consequence, the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is in line with state legislation and doesn’t single out faith, Levy stated.

By comparability, he stated New York’s mandate initially allowed religious exemptions after which eliminated them because the deadline neared. New York additionally permits religious exemptions to different mandated pictures, Levy stated. learn extra

Not less than 24 states have imposed vaccine necessities on employees, normally in healthcare.

Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; further reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston
Enhancing by Noeleen Walder, Marguerita Choy and Invoice Berkrot

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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