UPDATE: Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern reported Friday afternoon that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has denied the request by New York City public school teachers to block the city’s COVID vaccine mandate for school staff. The justice did not refer the case to the full court, Stern said.
According to Stern, Sotomayor issued no written order. Instead, the Supreme Court notified reporters.
Original report follows…
Public school teachers in New York City hope to take their fight against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate all the way to the Supreme Court.
The group of four teachers said that the city’s vaccine mandate violates their due process rights. They’ve filed an emergency petition with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor arguing the mandate places an “unconstitutional burden” on the city’s 148,000 teachers and also “threatens the education of thousands of children.”
“In attempting to combat the COVID-19 virus, the City of New York, the Department of Education, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene created an Executive Order that places an unconstitutional burden on public-school teachers,” the petition states.
“Instead of providing public-school employees with the choice to opt out of the vaccine mandate through weekly testing—an option provided for other municipality employees—the Executive Order forces unvaccinated public-school employees to go on unpaid leave for nearly a year,” lawyers for the teachers argue. “The Executive Order threatens the education of thousands of children in the largest public-school system in the country and violates the substantive due process and equal protection rights afforded to all public-school employees.
“If permitted to take effect, the August 23 Order will force thousands of unvaccinated public-school employees to lose their jobs—while other municipal employees, including those who have significant contact with children, are allowed to opt-out of the vaccine mandate through weekly COVID-19 testing,” the petition argues.
Under de Blasio’s executive order, teachers in New York City have until 5 p.m. Friday to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk losing their jobs. Teachers are required to have received at least their first dose of a vaccine by Monday, Oct. 4, when school begins for the week. Unlike President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring businesses with at least 100 employees to mandate vaccination, de Blasio did not give teachers an option to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing in place of vaccination.
Earlier this week, a federal appeals court invalidated a temporary injunction against De Blasio’s order.
“The courts have spoken — plaintiffs have no valid claims,” de Blasio press secretary Danielle Filson said. “[The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene] has the authority to implement a mandate that is firmly grounded in science & the expertise of public health officials across the nation.”
The vaccine mandate will go into effect Friday unless the Supreme Court intervenes.