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United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
October 19, 2021, Decided
[*24] LYNCH, Circuit Judge. Faced with COVID-19's virulent delta variant and vaccination rates among healthcare workers too low to prevent community transmission, Maine's Center for Disease Control ("Maine CDC") promulgated a regulation effective August 12, 2021, requiring all workers in licensed healthcare facilities to be vaccinated against the virus. ] Under state law, a healthcare [**2] worker may claim an exemption from the requirement only if a medical practitioner certifies that vaccination "may be medically inadvisable." Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 22, § 802(4-B) (West 2021). Maine has mandated that its healthcare workers be vaccinated against certain contagious diseases since 1989. It has not allowed religious or philosophical exemptions to any of its vaccination requirements since an amendment to state law in May 2019 (which took effect in April 2020), and the COVID-19 mandate complies with that state law.
Several Maine healthcare workers (and a healthcare provider who runs his own practice) sued, arguing that the vaccination requirement violates their rights including those under the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution. They sued the Governor, the commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services ("Maine HHS"), and the director of Maine CDC alleging violations of the Free Exercise Clause, Supremacy Clause, Equal Protection Clause, and 42 U.S.C. § 1985. They also sued several Maine hospitals, which employ seven of the nine appellants, alleging violations of the Supremacy Clause, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 42 U.S.C. § 1985.
The appellants sought a preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement of the regulation against them. The district court denied their motion. Doe v. Mills, No. 1:21-cv-242-JDL, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 197251, 2021 WL 4783626 (D. Me. Oct. 13, 2021).
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16 F.4th 20 *; 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 31375 **
JANE DOES 1-6; JOHN DOES 1-3; JACK DOES 1-1000; JOAN DOES 1-1000, Plaintiffs, Appellants, v. JANET T. MILLS, in her official capacity as Governor of the State of Maine; JEANNE M. LAMBREW, in her official capacity as Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services; NIRAV D. SHAH, in his official capacity as Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention; MAINEHEALTH; GENESIS HEALTHCARE OF MAINE, LLC; GENESIS HEALTHCARE, LLC; NORTHERN LIGHT HEALTH FOUNDATION; MAINEGENERAL HEALTH, Defendants, Appellees.
Subsequent History: As Amended November 19, 2021.
Injunction denied by Doe v. Mills, 211 L. Ed. 2d 243, 2021 U.S. LEXIS 5340 (U.S., Oct. 29, 2021)
Petition for certiorari filed at, 11/11/2021
Motion denied by Does v. Mills, 2021 U.S. LEXIS 6133 (U.S., Dec. 6, 2021)
Prior History: [**1] APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MAINE. Hon. Jon D. Levy, U.S. District Judge.
Doe v. Mills, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 197251 (D. Me., Oct. 13, 2021)
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