Liberty Counsel has filed an appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in response to federal Judge Jon Levy’s ruling to allow the public exposure of Liberty Counsel’s clients in Jane Does 1–6, et al.,v. Janet Mills, et al. The identities of the eight Maine health care workers and one individual health care provider are challenging an August 2021 change to Maine law that requires employees of designated Maine health care facilities to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 shot.
Their identities are known to the defendants, but the media wants to expose them to the public so that they will be harassed and threatened.
Liberty Counsel represents more than 2,000 Maine health care workers against Maine Gov. Janet Mills, health officials of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and five of the state’s largest hospital systems. Mills ordered employers to deny all religious exemptions and ignore the federal employment law known as Title VII that affords employees the right to request reasonable accommodation for their sincere religious beliefs. Many of these health care workers who requested religious exemptions are now unemployed, having been terminated on October 29, the governor’s deadline for compliance.
However, the media is now seeking to expose the identities of these health care workers. In fact, media corporations waited until November 10 to move to intervene which proves that their “alleged injury” is purely farce.
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From the outset of the litigation, the complaint, pleadings, filings, proceedings and court orders have been open to the public, and the media was allowed access to all hearings. Yet, media corporations contend that allowing plaintiffs to proceed under pseudonyms “deprives” their “presumptive rights of access to court proceedings and records.” However, the U.S. District Court of Maine has already recognized that, “Plaintiffs have a reasonable fear of harm that outweighs the public’s interest in open litigation at this preliminary stage.”
The First Amendment guarantees the freedom of speech and press and prohibits the government from closing courtroom doors. Media corporations already have the qualified First Amendment access they seek. However, plaintiffs have the right to privacy in legal proceedings to protect them from harassment.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The media wants the identities of our clients to be broadcast to the public so that they will be harassed and threatened into silence. These health care heroes have already been abused by Gov. Janet Mills. Now the media wants to further abuse them. We will not allow that to happen.”
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