The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to block a Maine law requiring vaccination for workers at preschool and daycare centers.
Lawyers for the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the court in February that the law amounted to an unwarranted and discriminatory ban on religion, and they appealed to Chief Justice John Roberts.
The organization objected to the law on the grounds that parents deserve the right to determine which of their children should get vaccinated and to oppose vaccinations out of religious or philosophical reasons.
But Maine’s attorney general asked Roberts to allow the law to take effect until its legal challenge is resolved. Roberts said in his order Tuesday that he would provide a one-page explanation later.
The court’s order said the procedure could be completed quickly. Roberts did not elaborate.
“Appropriate reasons” for the court’s denial can be filed by the 24 organizations that had participated in the challenge of the law, and could include a statement. It may take several weeks for the groups to file their comments.
The decision to have the court intervene and file a brief on behalf of the states of Maine and Hawaii meant that Roberts accepted the state’s invitation to decide the issue.
The case involves a group of parents in Maine who challenged the law, saying it constitutes a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because the state gave out religious exemptions, making immunizations optional for health-care workers.
Roberts’ order noted that Maine did not exempt health-care workers from any other federal law, and therefore “the court should defer to the judgment of the Maine Legislature concerning the expansion of immunization exemptions available to public health-care workers.”
Health-care workers argued that unvaccinated children could spread diseases to other children who could spread those diseases to babies and young children.