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Courthouse News reports that the U.S. Supreme Court declined an emergency application to stop the enforcement of a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers in Maine.

Maine Governor Janet Mills, a Democrat, instituted the mandate in late September requiring health care workers to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 29, or risk losing their jobs. Several health care workers challenged the mandate, citing in their complaint beliefs that prevent them from receiving a Covid-19 vaccine because of “the vaccines’ connections to aborted fetal cell lines,” among other religious reasons.

After a federal district court judge denied the health care workers injunctive relief last week, they quickly filed their emergency application with the U.S. Supreme Court.

But Justice Stephen Breyer denied the application without prejudice Tuesday afternoon.

The Supreme Court has previously used the emergency docket – sometimes called the shadow docket – to reject vaccine mandates challenges from public school teachers in New York and students and employees from Indiana University, but this case marks the first time the court addressed a statewide Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court is ready to consider this case if we do not get relief at the First Circuit Court of Appeals or if the lower court does not rule by October 29,” Mathew Staver, attorney for the plaintiffs and Liberty Counsel founder and chairman, said in a statement. “As of Monday, our case is now fully briefed at the court of appeals. We look forward to an expedited ruling. There is no question that Gov. Janet Mills cannot nullify federal law and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

Staver and the plaintiffs did not have to wait long for the First Circuit to weigh in. Shortly after the Supreme Court’s denial, a three-judge panel of the First Circuit also ruled against the plaintiffs, rejecting their request for a preliminary injunction.

“While we do not diminish the appellants’ liberty of conscience, we cannot find, absent any constitutional or statutory violation, any error in the district court’s conclusion that the rule promotes strong public interests and that an injunction would not serve the public interest,” U.S. Circuit Judge Sandra Lynch, a Bill Clinton appointee, wrote in the 35-page opinion.

Now, the case is likely headed straight back to the Supreme Court.

According to Maine’s vaccination data, over 85% of all health care workers across the state’s facilities were vaccinated as of September.