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BANGOR, Maine (LifeSiteNews) – Liberty Counsel has filed a lawsuit representing over 2,000 Maine healthcare workers to fight a measure that requires all health care workers in the state of Maine to receive full COVID-19 vaccination.  

The brief states that “All Plaintiffs seek in this lawsuit is to be able to continue to provide the health care they have provided to patients for their entire careers, and to do so under the same protective measures that have sufficed for them to be considered superheroes for the last 18 months.”  

The brief also asks a federal judge in Bangor to impose a temporary order that would stop the measure from taking effect. The mandate comes on the heels of the implementation of a law passed in 2019 that prohibits religious exemptions from vaccination. 

Named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Janet T. Mills (D-ME), governor of Maine, officials from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and five major hospital systems in Maine. 

Liberty Counsel contends that the mandate violates, in addition to the First Amendment, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states that religious exemptions and accommodations should always be met by employers. 

The Mills administration announced last week that all healthcare providers in the state of Maine must be vaccinated by October 1. “Vaccinations are the best tool we have to protect the lives and livelihoods of Maine people and to curb this pandemic” Governor Mills said. “With this requirement, we are protecting health care workers, their patients, including our most vulnerable, and our health care capacity.” The rule also requires people employed by emergency medical service facilities and dental practitioners to get vaccinated by the same date.   

Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter reacting to Governor Mills’ move, dated August 18. In an article on their website describing the letter, Liberty Counsel stated that they were “prepared to file a lawsuit if the governor [did] not respond and honor all federal protections and entitlements to accommodation for sincerely held religious beliefs by Friday, August 20, 2021.”  

“[T]he state and all private employers with more than 15 employees, are required by federal law to consider and grant meritorious religious exemptions.”  

Liberty Counsel also stated that the COVID shots “cannot be mandatory under authorization of emergency use (EUA),” adding that “the federal Emergency Use Authorization law and the FDA, including the FDA fact sheet, state unequivocally that each person has the ‘option to accept or to refuse’ the shots.”  

According to page 6 of the vaccine information facts sheet, “under the EUA, it is your choice to receive or not receive the vaccine. Should you decide not to receive it, it will not change your standard medical care.” Both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines remain under Emergency Use Authorization.

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey, reacting to the lawsuit, said that “The requirement in Maine that the health care workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 is based on a determination by public health experts that it is necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19 in health care facilities and to protect Maine’s health care system.”  

Frey added, “We will vigorously defend the requirement against this lawsuit and we are confident that it will be upheld.” Frey also noted that, given Supreme Court precedent, the mandate will likely be upheld. Liberty Counsel has successfully fought multiple COVID-19 vaccine mandates this year, including in Louisiana and Illinois.

In a hearing held Thursday, Judge Jon Levy, speaking about Liberty Counsel’s request for a temporary order stopping the mandate, said “I’m not satisfied that you’ve established compliance with the (notification) requirements … or that there is good cause for (prior notice) not to be required in advance. Therefore, I’m going to issue an order later today denying your request for a temporary restraining order.”  

Judge Levy did say that he would expedite the case so the plaintiffs could meet the vaccination deadline, saying that September 3 or 9 could be possible dates. At least two of the major hospital systems in Maine have yet to receive complaints.  

LifeSiteNews contacted the Maine governor’s office and the A.G.’s office for comment, but did not receive a response by publication time.