New York City can now enforce requirements mandating public school employees prove they have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. The decision came from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who denied without comment on Friday an emergency application filed by New York City teachers opposed to the vaccine mandate.
The city implemented a vaccine requirement for staff who “work in person” in August and set a deadline of 5 p.m. on October 1st for employees to get their first shot. Those who fail to meet the requirement can be suspended without pay starting Monday.
The teachers who tried to stop the enforcement filed a proposed class-action lawsuit, claiming the requirement represented an “unconstitutional burden” to teachers. In their filing to the Supreme Court, they asked the court to put enforcement on hold until the appeals process for their lawsuit is complete, but Sotomayor denied their request.
According to New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, the vast majority of the city’s teachers and principals — 93 percent and 98 percent, respectively — have already been vaccinated for Covid.
“The bottom line is, this mandate has worked,” De Blasio said on MSNBC Friday. “I would urge every mayor in America to do it now, get those vaccine mandates in place ahead of the cold weather when things are going to get tougher. Do it now or you will regret it later.”
Georgia Pestana, the city’s corporation counsel, said that the city was pleased with the decision.
“We are gratified by this decision by Justice Sotomayor,” Pestana said in a statement obtained by the AP. “She made the right call on the law and in the best interest of students and educators.”
Lou Gelormino, an attorney representing the teachers, expressed frustration with Sotomayor’s decision. “The voices of our teachers deserved to be heard,” he said in a statement, according to NBC News. “These unconstitutional edicts will continue throughout the nation until our Courts decide to hear our argument that the Government has gone too far. Our children are the ones who will suffer the most.”
This is not the first time the Supreme Court has refused to let anti-vaxxers skirt Covid vaccination requirements. Justice Amy Comey Barret in August refused to block a student vaccine mandate put in place by Indiana University. Like Sotomayor, she declined to block it without giving an explanation.