Supreme Court to consider challenge to teacher vaccine mandate in New York City
The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear a request from New York City teachers to block a vaccine mandate over religious objections, despite Justice Sonia Sotomayor initially denying the request just last week.
An application for the teachers’ request was submitted to Sotomayor last week, which she rejected. Sotomayor oversees cases in the 2nd Circuit and had previously rejected a similar request in October.
However, the plaintiffs submitted a second request to Justice Neil Gorsuch, who referred it to the court for consideration. While Supreme Court rules allow for renewed requests to other justices after they have been rejected, the application is considered “not favored.”
As CNN noted, Gorsuch was likely chosen because he penned a dissent when the court denied a request to block a vaccine mandate in Maine last year, though the two mandates differed somewhat in that the latter offered some religious exemptions, while the Maine mandate did not.
In their request to Gorsuch, attorneys representing the teachers said, “Unless the Supreme Court issues an emergency injunction, our clients will lose either their religious (and bodily) integrity or their employment. It is a fluid situation in which, as has been widely reported in the press, Respondent Mayor Eric Adams is yet considering just how many New York City workers to fire; every day counts.”
Even though religious accommodations are offered as part of the vaccine mandate, the 13 plaintiffs in the suit argue that the exemptions are too narrow.
The request is scheduled to be brought up for consideration in early March.
The vaccine mandate for New York City teachers was issued by former Mayor Bill de Blasio (D). As The New York Times noted when Sotomayor rejected the application last week, around 95 percent of the city’s workforce has since received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
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