A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit from a group of health care workers against Maine’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Jon Levy, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, said that the Pine Tree State’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate is “rationally based.”
Liberty Counsel, a law firm representing the seven Maine health care workers, said the dismissal order is “critically flawed” and the plaintiffs will appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.
Northern Light Health, one of the five health care networks listed as defendants in this case, applauded the ruling.
Judge: Maine Has No Religious ExemptionThe plaintiffs argued that the vaccine mandate violated their First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion because it did not provide an exemption for religious beliefs.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, and five health care providers are listed as defendants in the lawsuit.
The seven health care workers had remained anonymous since filing the suit until July 2022 when a federal appeals court in Boston said they must reveal their identities.
Levy said in his ruling that mandatory vaccination requirements for health care workers in Maine were established long before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maine removed religious exemptions from mandated vaccines in 2019 and voters overwhelmingly rejected a referendum challenging the law in 2020. As a result, the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is consistent with state law and does not single out religion, he said.