(LifeSiteNews) – A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has revived a legal challenge of Maine’s refusal to allow religious exemptions for COVID-19 vaccine mandates, chastising a lower court’s decision to dismiss the constitutional challenge by a group of healthcare workers.
The case, which has been ongoing since 2021, was snubbed last year by the U.S. Supreme Court, allowing the mandate and the lawsuits to continue. More recently, federal Judge Jon Levy had dismissed the plaintiffs’ case that the mandate violated their constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, but last week the 1st Circuit panel reversed him (while upholding his dismissal of lesser claims).
“[W]e conclude that the plaintiffs’ complaint states claims for relief under the Free Exercise and Equal Protection Clauses, as it is plausible, based on the plaintiffs’ allegations and in the absence of further factual development, that the Mandate treats comparable secular and religious activity dissimilarly without adequate justification,” the panel ruled.
“We conclude that it is plausible, in the absence of any factual development, that the Mandate falls in this category, based on the complaint’s allegations that the Mandate allows some number of unvaccinated individuals to continue working in healthcare facilities based on medical exemptions while refusing to allow individuals to continue working while unvaccinated for religious reasons,” it continued. “[T]he State has not asserted an independent interest in maximizing vaccination rates apart from the public health benefits of doing so, and the Supreme Court has instructed us to assess comparability in the public health context based on the risks various activities pose. The State’s argument that it did not independently conduct this type of analysis is, if anything, a reason to be skeptical that dismissal is appropriate absent further factual development.”
“Gov. Janet Mills trashed the health care heroes who were front line responders,” responded Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, which represented the workers. “But instead of a heroes’ parade, Mills violated their religious rights and booted them into the unemployment lines.”
Religious and conscience-based objections to taking the COVID shots, which were developed and released under former President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed initiative in a fraction of the time vaccines usually take, stem from the use of cells derived from aborted babies in their creation.
According to a detailed overview by the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson all used aborted fetal cells during their vaccines’ testing phase; and Johnson & Johnson also used the cells during the design and development and production phases. The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s journal Science and even the left-wing “fact-checking” outlet Snopes have also admitted the vaccines’ abortion connection.
Additionally, many continue to doubt the shots’ safety in light of a significant body of data about adverse effects.
The federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting system (VAERS) reports 35,302 deaths, 201,115 hospitalizations, 19,723 heart attacks, and 26,984 myocarditis and pericarditis cases as of May 19. An April 2022 study out of Israel indicates that COVID infection itself cannot fully account for the myocarditis numbers, despite common insistence to the contrary. Jab defenders are quick to stress that reports submitted to VAERS are unconfirmed, as anyone can submit one, but U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) researchers have recognized a “high verification rate of reports of myocarditis to VAERS after mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccination,” leading to the conclusion that “under-reporting is more likely” than over-reporting.
Further, VAERS is not the only data source containing red flags. Data from the Pentagon’s Defense Medical Epidemiology Database (DMED) shows that 2021 saw drastic spikes in a variety of diagnoses for serious medical issues over the previous five-year average, including hypertension (2,181%), neurological disorders (1,048%), multiple sclerosis (680%), Guillain-Barre syndrome (551%), breast cancer, (487%), female infertility (472%), pulmonary embolism (468%), migraines (452%), ovarian dysfunction (437%), testicular cancer (369%), and tachycardia (302%).
Last September, the Japanese Society for Vaccinology published a peer-reviewed study conducted by researchers from Stanford, UCLA, and the University of Maryland, which found that the “Pfizer trial exhibited a 36% higher risk of serious adverse events in the vaccine group” while the “Moderna trial exhibited a 6% higher risk of serious adverse events in the vaccine group,” for a combined “16% higher risk of serious adverse events in mRNA vaccine recipients.”
In December 2022, Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin hosted a roundtable discussion during which civil rights attorney Aaron Siri detailed data from the CDC’s V-Safe reporting system revealing that 800,000 of the system’s 10 million participants, or approximately 7.7 percent, reported needing medical care after COVID injection. “25 percent of those people needed emergency care or were hospitalized, and another 48 percent sought urgent care,” Siri added. “Also, another 25 percent on top of the 7.7 percent reported being unable to work or go to school.”
Another study by a team of American, British, and Canadian researchers, published last December by the in the Journal of Medical Ethics, found that COVID booster mandates for university students – a relatively healthy group at relatively low risk from the virus – do far more harm than good: “per COVID-19 hospitalisation prevented, we anticipate at least 18.5 serious adverse events from mRNA vaccines, including 1.5–4.6 booster-associated myopericarditis cases in males (typically requiring hospitalisation).”