U.S. Supreme Court rejects religious challenge to Maine vaccine mandate

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  hallux  •  one month ago  •  44 comments

By:   Lawrence Hurley - Reuters

U.S. Supreme Court rejects religious challenge to Maine vaccine mandate

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



WASHINGTON, Oct 29 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday turned away healthcare workers seeking a religious exemption to Maine's COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the latest battle over vaccination to reach the justices.
The court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, rejected a request made by nine unnamed plaintiffs who identified themselves as healthcare workers who object to receiving the shots on religious grounds. The court previously rejected challenges to vaccine mandates in New York and Indiana, though those cases did not involve religious objections.







The justices were divided, with three conservative members saying they would have granted the request.
In Maine, "healthcare workers who have served on the front line of a pandemic for the last 18 months are now being fired and their practices shuttered," conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in a dissenting opinion. He was joined by Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito.
Maine Governor Janet Mills' administration had required that all healthcare workers in the state be fully vaccinated by the beginning of October, but the state said it would not enforce it until Friday.
The governor said such workers perform a critical role in protecting the health of Maine's residents and that every precaution needed to be taken to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, especially in light of the presence of

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Hallux
Sophomore Principal
1  seeder  Hallux    one month ago

I'm not always a fan of SCOTUS when it does something rational, often it is a precursor to doing something irrational.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
1.1  Ender  replied to  Hallux @1    one month ago

They will screw us on abortion.

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
1.1.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  Ender @1.1    one month ago

On that, I will not be surprised.

 
 
 
Dismayed Patriot
Professor Participates
1.2  Dismayed Patriot  replied to  Hallux @1    one month ago
I'm not always a fan of SCOTUS when it does something rational

Not me. I'm a big fan of rational thinking whichever side of the political divide it comes from. It's just so rare to see any coming from religious conservatives that I'm always surprised when we see it.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
1.2.1  Gordy327  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @1.2    one month ago
I'm a big fan of rational thinking whichever side of the political divide it comes from. It's just so rare to see any coming from religious conservatives that I'm always surprised when we see it.

I'm beginning to think it's becoming rare to see any rationality at all, regardless who it's from.

 
 
 
GregTx
Sophomore Participates
2  GregTx    one month ago

Tis worrisome indeed...

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
2.1  Ender  replied to  GregTx @2    one month ago

How so? Vaccines have been mandated as far as I can remember.

My mother told me when she was young the polio vaccine was mandated and everyone had to get it.

The religious exemption is bullshit. Where in the bible does it say that vaccines are bad....

 
 
 
GregTx
Sophomore Participates
2.1.1  GregTx  replied to  Ender @2.1    one month ago
Where in the bible does it say that vaccines are bad....

Where in the Constitution does it say that vaccines are compulsory?...

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
2.1.2  sandy-2021492  replied to  GregTx @2.1.1    one month ago

Where does it say employers can't set employment requirements?

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
2.1.3  Ender  replied to  GregTx @2.1.1    one month ago

Where does it say they are not...

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
2.1.4  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  GregTx @2.1.1    one month ago

Should saving lives be considered more important than the Constitution?  It is said in the Talmud that to save one life is to save the world entire.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
2.1.5  sandy-2021492  replied to  Ender @2.1.3    one month ago

Yup.

The Constitution limits government's powers, not employers'.  SCOTUS is confirming that employers have the right to set employment requirements.

But it's moot, anyway.  SCOTUS already ruled in 1905 that states can enforce vaccine mandates - Jacobson vs. Massacusetts.

 
 
 
GregTx
Sophomore Participates
2.1.6  GregTx  replied to  sandy-2021492 @2.1.2    one month ago
The Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 is the act which gives the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) authority to sue in federal courts when it finds reasonable cause to believe that there has been employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. In the case of public employment, the EEOC refers the matter to the United States Attorney General to bring the lawsuit. The Act prohibits employment discrimination in its programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, and marital or familial status. Added as an amendment to Title VII , it expands the protection of Title VII to public and private employers with 15 or more employees, both public and private labor organizations with at least 15 members, and employment agencies.

Equal Employment Opportunity Act Law and Legal Definition | USLegal, Inc.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
2.1.7  sandy-2021492  replied to  GregTx @2.1.6    one month ago

No mention of vaccination status.

 
 
 
GregTx
Sophomore Participates
2.1.8  GregTx  replied to  sandy-2021492 @2.1.7    one month ago

Right, so no other reason might apply?....

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
2.1.9  sandy-2021492  replied to  GregTx @2.1.8    one month ago

Well, it doesn't cover sexual orientation federally, so it seems pretty limited in its scope.  What's covered by the act seems to be what's written in the act.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
2.1.10  Ender  replied to  GregTx @2.1.8    one month ago

How in the world would making everyone get a vaccine be discrimination...

 
 
 
GregTx
Sophomore Participates
2.1.11  GregTx  replied to  sandy-2021492 @2.1.9    one month ago
It is unlawful to harass a person because of that person's sex, including the person's sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy.

Sex-Based Discrimination | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (eeoc.gov)

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
2.1.12  sandy-2021492  replied to  GregTx @2.1.11    one month ago

Ok, I stand corrected.  That was based on the prohibition against sex discrimination, which is included in the act.

Vaccination is not mentioned in any way.

 
 
 
GregTx
Sophomore Participates
2.1.13  GregTx  replied to  sandy-2021492 @2.1.12    one month ago
Vaccination is not mentioned in any way.

Why would it be?

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
2.1.14  sandy-2021492  replied to  GregTx @2.1.13    one month ago

It wouldn't.  Because the EEOC doesn't protect those who refuse to meet employment requirements.

It doesn't protect people who apply for physically demanding jobs, but aren't fit enough to perform them.

It doesn't protect vegans who apply for work in butchers' shops, but refuse to be near meat.

It doesn't protect people who apply to be cab drivers, but don't have a driver's license.

It doesn't protect people who want to work as doctors, but never went to med school.

Jobs have requirements.  Always have.  Refusing to employ someone who won't meet the job requirements isn't discrimination.

Some statuses are protected, and they're mentioned within the text of the law.  Refusal of vaccines isn't one of them.

 
 
 
GregTx
Sophomore Participates
2.1.15  GregTx  replied to  sandy-2021492 @2.1.14    one month ago

No, actually refusal of vaccination could fall under a number of reasons that are justified under EEOC. 

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
2.1.16  sandy-2021492  replied to  GregTx @2.1.15    one month ago

It really could only be due to religion or for medical reasons (disability).  SCOTUS denied religion, so it would be down to disability, and medical exemptions are allowed.  It has nothing to do with race, color, sex, marital or family status, age, or political beliefs.  People of any race or color, from any nation of origin, can get the vaccine.  Single and married people can get the vaccine.  People of any age can get the vaccine.  Men and women can get the vaccine.  There is no political party advocating against the vaccine.

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Expert
3  Tacos!    one month ago
seeking a religious exemption to Maine's COVID-19 vaccine mandate

With apologies to Potter Stewart, the Supreme Court may not be able to define Bullshit, but they know it when they see it.

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
3.1  XXJefferson51  replied to  Tacos! @3    one month ago

More people with job offers in red states coming up.  

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
3.1.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  XXJefferson51 @3.1    one month ago

They won't be missed.

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Expert
3.1.2  Tacos!  replied to  XXJefferson51 @3.1    one month ago

Because that’s what matters here. Wow.

 
 
 
Freewill
Junior Participates
4  Freewill    one month ago

I think the mandate might make sense if the workers were refusing to take the scientifically proven precautions of masking, distancing and frequent washing of hands between exposure to patients, etc. as ALL of our healthcare workers have been doing since the start of the pandemic, even before the vaccines were available.  Were the fired workers doing that?  Had any of them already had the virus and hence the anti-bodies?  Those things are not made clear in the story.

The governor said such workers perform a critical role in protecting the health of Maine's residents and that every precaution needed to be taken to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, especially in light of the presence of the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Well no shit they perform a critical role, but not if they are sitting on a couch at home collecting unemployment.  If this results in a worsening of the already present health care worker shortage , is it really smarter than setting proper policies and following the science, especially since we know that vaccinated people can still carry and spread the disease?

Having said that, the proper objection to the mandate should have invoked the actual science or CDC guidelines, not a flimsy claim to a right for a religious exemption.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
4.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  Freewill @4    one month ago

This is just one more in a long list of vaccines healthcare workers are required to have.  I had to have the hepatitis B vaccine before I could enter dental school.  Before I could see patients, I had to have titers done to show immunity to hep B.  I didn't develop sufficient antibodies, so I had to take a booster dose.  I also had to have titers done to show immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella.

Did I have a choice?  Of course I did.  I could throw away 2 years of pre-clinical education (and tuition) and look for work that wasn't healthcare-related.

So can these folks.

Required vaccinations for healthcare workers is nothing new.  Some workers are just choosing this hill to die on.  They're making a bad choice, and bad choices have consequences.

Healthcare workers can't maintain physical distance from their patients and still do their jobs.  Masks and handwashing aren't enough to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.

Following science means getting the vaccine.

 
 
 
Freewill
Junior Participates
4.1.1  Freewill  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1    one month ago
Required vaccinations for healthcare workers is nothing new.  Some workers are just choosing this hill to die on.  They're making a bad choice, and bad choices have consequences.

Agreed.  I think it is a bad choice to object on religious grounds.

Following science means getting the vaccine.

Perhaps but not necessarily.  It is also true that vaccinated people can still get and transmit the disease symptomatically or asymptomatically.   

Data from COVID-19 tests in the United States, the United Kingdom and Singapore are showing that vaccinated people who become infected with Delta SARS-CoV-2 can carry as much virus in their nose as do unvaccinated people. This means that despite the protection offered by vaccines, a proportion of vaccinated people can pass on Delta, possibly aiding its rise .

“People who have a Delta virus and happen to have ‘breakthrough’ infections can carry these really high levels of virus, and can unwittingly spread the virus to others,” says David O’Connor, a virologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The findings underscore the importance of protective measures such as wearing masks indoors to reduce transmission. Researchers stress that COVID-19 vaccines are protective against serious illness and death, but the data on Delta transmission show that “people who are vaccinated still need to take precautions”, O’Connor says.

So does it make sense to shrink the healthcare workforce even further such that proper care cannot be administered to those who really need it?  Is there any evidence that unvaccinated healthcare workers following proper protocols have yet to be the cause of widespread transmission of Covid to others?  Remember, no healthcare workers were vaccinated prior to it becoming available.

Why would a common sense policy or approach based on the science and CDC guidelines, like that in Minnesota , which does not include a mandate and accommodates both vaccinated and unvaccinated healthcare workers not suffice?  Note that as of Sept 10, 2021 the CDC does not indicate that healthcare providers must be vaccinated and it establishes guidelines for both vaccinated and unvaccinated HCPs, patients, and visitors.   Perhaps THAT is the science that should be followed.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
4.1.2  Ender  replied to  Freewill @4.1.1    one month ago

I will say if my healthcare provider ended up being some anti vax nutjob, I say so long.

 
 
 
Freewill
Junior Participates
4.1.3  Freewill  replied to  Ender @4.1.2    one month ago
I will say if my healthcare provider ended up being some anti vax nutjob, I say so long.

And you are certainly free to do that.  Would you agree that such a provider, having been educated in the science and knowing the risks, should also be free to decide what is injected into his/her body if he/she sees a problem with it?  As long as that doctor is following the current CDC guidelines for protecting the health of patients and visitors, why would you force him/her, via government threat to end his/her career, to inject something he or she believes (due to their training) might be harmful to them?

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
4.1.5  Ender  replied to  Freewill @4.1.3    one month ago

Should we not have mandated the smallpox vac or the polio vac.

I mean some people may think they know better...

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
4.1.6  Gordy327  replied to  Ender @4.1.2    one month ago
I will say if my healthcare provider ended up being some anti vax nutjob, I say so long.

As would I. I would not be able to trust their clinical judgements. 

 
 
 
Freewill
Junior Participates
4.1.7  Freewill  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1.4    one month ago
The CDC certainly recommends that all healthcare workers be vaccinated.

Yes they did "recommend", but did not suggest a mandate for all healthcare workers, and the current CDC guidelines for healthcare workers as I indicated above addresses both vaccinated and unvaccinated workers and the guidelines for both are nearly identical. 

And hospitals are within their rights to insist that their employees follow CDC recommendations, which are based on science.

I will agree with that as well.  And I suppose that entire states are also within their rights to do so.  But they are also within their rights not to force healthcare workers to get vaccinated but to otherwise follow the current CDC guidelines , also based on the science, like Minnesota has done.  I'm simply pointing out that both are acceptable, although one requires force and the potential reduction in available healthcare resources (not to mention lost careers, albeit by making a forced choice), while the other does not.

For what its's worth I am fully vaccinated and would recommend it to others based on what I know, and the conditions that I and others in my family have that make the risk of contracting Covid greater than the potential risks of taking the vaccine. That is my personal decision based on my circumstances.  But I would not presume that my circumstances, or my knowledge, would supersede that of others, especially doctors or other healthcare workers who have even better access to the data than I do.  If they choose not to get vaccinated and can still do their jobs within CDC guidelines without putting others at risk (as they have done from the start) then I don't understand the need to strip them of their choice or cause them to sacrifice their livelihood for it.  That is all I have to say about it.  Thanks for the discussion Sandy.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
4.1.8  sandy-2021492  replied to  Freewill @4.1.7    one month ago

If we apply that standard to their other recommendations, well, they're not recommending mandates regarding masks or social distancing, either.  They're just issuing recommendations.  I assume you'll agree that hospitals shouldn't just leave it up to healthcare workers to decide whether they should follow the recommendations, too.  Lack of handwashing has been an issue among healthcare workers at various times, despite the fact that they should absolutely know better.

Hospitals have mandates because people, being human, can sometimes be lazy or careless in following guidelines.

 
 
 
Freewill
Junior Participates
4.1.9  Freewill  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1.8    one month ago
If we apply that standard to their other recommendations...

Why would we?  The other guidelines or recommendations don't involve the injection of a substance inside one's body that one as an educated healthcare worker might not think is entirely safe or necessary.

I assume you'll agree that hospitals shouldn't just leave it up to healthcare workers to decide whether they should follow the recommendations, too. 

As I said above, I think the states or hospitals can and should establish guidelines or procedures consistent with the CDC guidelines including mandates as/if they see fit.  I just think that the mandate for compulsory vaccination of healthcare workers should be a last resort when the other guidelines thus far have been sufficient to keep the public safe including regular testing and proper quarantine, not just masks, distancing and handwashing (see that Minnesota guideline as an example).  It is also incumbent on the facility to provide the workers with proper PPE and other supplies/materials that enable them to best follow the guidelines/procedures.  The consequences of not following the procedures (or mandates if instituted) should also be balanced with the very real problem of an already severe shortage of qualified healthcare workers. 

Hospitals have mandates because people, being human, can sometimes be lazy or careless in following guidelines.

If those other guidelines or procedures are not followed it will make little difference if the workers are vaccinated or not.   The guidelines for vaccinated workers are very similar to those of unvaccinated workers for a reason. I'm sorry, but at this point I feel this is just becoming repetitive so I will stop here and again thank you for the discussion.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
4.1.10  sandy-2021492  replied to  Freewill @4.1.9    one month ago
The other guidelines or recommendations don't involve the injection of a substance inside one's body that one as an educated healthcare worker might not think is entirely safe or necessary.

Odd.  They had to have a bunch of other vaccines to be healthcare workers.  And I question the "educated" part of that statement.  The most educated, which would be medical doctors, have overwhelmingly been vaccinated.  It seems to be mostly the less-educated with doubts.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
5  Buzz of the Orient    one month ago

I'll reserve opinion on the SCOTUS until I see whether or not it reverses Roe v Wade.  

 
 
 
charger 383
Professor Quiet
6  charger 383    one month ago

We all got our shots as kids and that helped us have better and healthier lives

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
6.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  charger 383 @6    one month ago

It helped to eradicate smallpox from the world, making vaccination of children today unnecessary.  My parents have smallpox vaccine scars.  I don't.  It was already so rare by the time I was born that it wasn't needed.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
6.1.1  Ender  replied to  sandy-2021492 @6.1    one month ago

Polio as well.

I was the first year the smallpox vac was no longer mandated.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
6.1.2  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Ender @6.1.1    one month ago

Only less than a half a century ago in America, if people acted up about being vaccinated back then for polio, they could have spend the rest of their lives like this:

R-C.c330f64ee23a114f603e915e8cb85d10?rik=nMeqkkUIHKzQ2A&riu=http%3a%2f%2fwww.shared.com%2fcontent%2fimages%2f2017%2f11%2fpaul-alexander.png&ehk=inPwZPvZROVM20qpIWoaYycQ%2bXzsjnzrzZXia0J5iZs%3d&risl=&pid=ImgRaw&r=0

Nobody knows what the future effects on the human body and mind will be after they have suffered from the coronavirus.  

 
 
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