Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor declined to halt New York City’s public school vaccine mandate Friday, allowing the nation’s largest school district to move forward with plans to remove unvaccinated teachers and other employees from the payroll next week.
Several teachers asked the high court for an emergency injunction Thursday, arguing the mandate “places an unconstitutional burden on public-school teachers” by not allowing them to opt out of getting vaccinated.
School staff are required to submit proof of vaccination to the city by Friday at midnight, or they will be removed from the district’s payroll on Monday unless they receive a religious or medical exemption.
“We are gratified by Justice Sotomayor’s decision,” New York City Corporation Counsel Georgia Pestana said in a statement to Forbes. “She made the right call on the law and in the best interest of students and educators.”
“We are disappointed, but the fight for our clients’ due process rights and those similarly situated will go on,” the teachers’ attorney Vinoo Varghese told Forbes. “Our hope is that the next mayor will restore normalcy and decency to New York City.”
90%. That’s the share of New York City public school employees who are already at least partially vaccinated, Mayor Bill de Blasio told MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday, including 93% of the school system’s teachers and 98% of its principals.
New York City rolled out a vaccine mandate for school personnel — including teachers, administrators and custodians — in August, replacing a vaccine-or-test policy. The mandate was initially set to take effect earlier this week, but was delayed by legal challenges. A federal district court judge declined to block the policy after several teachers sued the city, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily halted the rule last week so a panel of appellate judges could review the teachers’ appeal, and that panel ultimately restored the vaccine mandate on Monday.
Government agencies in several other states are pressing public employees to get vaccinated, drawing occasional legal challenges. A union representing Massachusetts State Police troopers sued over a vaccine mandate imposed by Gov. Charlie Baker (R), but a state court judge declined to issue an injunction last week.