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Does v. Mills (U.S. Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit, October 19, 2021): The 1st Circuit refused to temporarily halt enforcement of a Maine law requiring that all workers in healthcare facilities get vaccinated against COVID-19. The healthcare workers, claiming sincerely held religious beliefs against COVID-19 vaccines, alleged the law’s inclusion of a medical exemption and lack of a religious exemption violates their First Amendment Free Exercise rights. The court reviewed the circumstances surrounding the law and its operation and found it to be neutral toward religion and generally applicable to all healthcare workers regardless of religious beliefs. Therefore, Maine only needed a rational basis for enacting the law, which the court found in the state’s interest in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The healthcare workers then sought emergency relief from the Supreme Court, which was denied. In dissent, Justice Gorsuch argued that by allowing medical but not religious exemptions the Maine law is not generally applicable and “borders on the irrational.” Read the First Circuit decision here, and the Gorsuch dissent here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – November 15, 2021.

View all cases under “Preventing and Treating Communicable Conditions.”