On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to review a lawsuit brought by four New York City public school workers who were required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The challenge was against New York City Department of Education and the city’s vaccine mandate for public school employees, which lower courts already permitted to take effect as legal challenges went on. Justice Sonia Sotomayor had also reportedly declined an emergency request that the mandate be paused.
In August, Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio and other officials “announced a new health care mandate requiring all New York City Department of Education [(DOE)] employees to provide proof of first dose of vaccination by September 27th.”
“Keeping our students and staff healthy is our top priority,” said de Blasio at the time. “To keep our schools healthy and safe, we are now requiring all Department of Education staff to have at least one dose of the vaccine by September 27. Together, we will create a safe and welcoming school experience for our kids.”
The four teachers involved in the suit were either terminated from their jobs or put on unpaid leave for declining to get vaccinated.
In a petition to the high court filed in December, the petitioners wrote that the “public-school teachers, respectfully request the Court identify the right of public-school teachers to practice their profession,” adding that the issues brought up in the petition were of “National Significance.”
“This case presents the Court with the opportunity to address a critical constitutional issue— whether public-school teachers have a fundamental right to practice their profession,” they argued. “Furthermore, the Court can provide needed guidance to the lower courts regarding the flood of COVID-19 vaccine mandate-related cases already pending and expected.”
In an opposition brief filed in March, the counsel for the New York City Department of Education claimed “There is zero evidence in this record indicating that the Department has foreclosed the four petitioners from pursuing their professions.”
The legal pushback over vaccine mandates appears to continue in the city, as a waitress at Yankee Stadium is suing over Mayor Eric Adams’ (D) vaccine exemption for performers and athletes.
Virginia Alleyne was put on leave without pay after working at Legends Suite Club for 17 years because she did not get the vaccine. The lawsuit was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, per the New York Post.
According to the outlet, the court documents stated, “Allowing professional athletes and performing artists to work without a vaccine while terminating [Alleyne] and those similarly situated for not receiving the vaccine is unquestionably arbitrary and capricious.”
“Thousands of firemen, policemen, teachers, sanitation workers, restaurant workers and other private sector workers have been fired as a result of this mandate,” the filing noted.
The Post reported, “The suit also challenges the claim that Adams’ executive order was implemented to ensure New York sports team wouldn’t be at a disadvantage if their unvaccinated athletes can’t play, while visiting athletes with the same vax status can.”
The court declined to hear over 100 cases on Monday and did not provide a reason for the rejection, as is customary.
On Monday, the Supreme Court also refused to review a challenge brought against a tax deduction limit which was implemented by the Trump administration and has continued through the Biden administration.
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