Law & Courts

Justice Sotomayor Denies Bid to Block Vaccine Mandate for New York City School Employees

By Mark Walsh — October 02, 2021 2 min read
In this Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020 file photo, senior Clinical Research Nurse Ajithkumar Sukumaran prepares the COVID 19 vaccine to administer to a volunteer, at a clinic in London. British scientists are beginning a small study comparing how two experimental coronavirus vaccines might work when they are inhaled by people instead of being injected. In a statement on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, researchers at Imperial College London and Oxford University said a trial involving 30 people would test vaccines developed by both institutions when participants inhale the droplets in their mouths, which would directly target their respiratory systems.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has refused an emergency request by a group of teachers challenging the New York City school system’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

Sotomayor late Friday acted as circuit justice covering the federal 2nd Circuit, which includes New York state, without asking the New York City Department of Education to file a response and without referring the matter to the full court. She issued no comment on the denial.

Four teachers representing a class of other educators and school staff challenged the school system’s mandate, part of a July 26 order by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for most municipal employees that initially included the option to get regular testing for the coronavirus instead of a vaccine. In August, De Blasio eliminated the testing option for school employees but not other city workers, though a separate arbitration proceeding allowed for medical and religious exemptions.

The group of teachers argued that the mandate violates their equal protection and due process rights under the 14th Amendment. On Sept. 23, a federal district judge in New York City rejected their request for an injunction to block the mandate. The judge cited Jacobson v. Massachusetts, a 1905 Supreme Court decision that upheld a state law giving municipalities the power to adopt financial penalties for adults who refused to be vaccinated against smallpox.

“Mandating a vaccine approved by the [Food and Drug Administration] does not” qualify as a “plain, palpable invasion” of the teachers’ fundamental rights, the judge said.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, in New York City, denied the teachers’ appeal in a one-page order on Sept. 27.

In their emergency request to Sotomayor in Maniscalco v. New York City Department of Education (No. 21A50), the teachers say the vaccine mandate will force them out of work and leave the school system with a major staffing shortage.

“This court should grant the injunction after nearly two years of lockdowns, to prevent the largest public-school system in the country from further disrupting the education of hundreds of thousands of students who desperately need in-person teachers,” the filing said.

Under the mandate, the city’s 148,000 school employees had until 5 p.m. on Oct. 1 to get their first vaccine shot or else face suspension without pay on Oct. 4.

The case is the second time recently that a Supreme Court justice has refused an emergency request to block a vaccine mandate in education. On Aug. 12, Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied a request to block Indiana University’s vaccine mandate.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Privacy & Security Webinar
Navigating Modern Data Protection & Privacy in Education
Explore the modern landscape of data loss prevention in education and learn actionable strategies to protect sensitive data.
Content provided by  Symantec & Carahsoft

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Law & Courts Biden's Title IX Rule Is Now Blocked in 14 States
A judge in Kansas issued the third injunction against the Biden administration's rule granting protections to LGBTQ+ students.
4 min read
Kansas high school students, family members and advocates rally for transgender rights, Jan. 31, 2024, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. On Tuesday, July 2, a federal judge in Kansas blocked a federal rule expanding anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ students from being enforced in four states, including Kansas and a patchwork of places elsewhere across the nation.
Kansas high school students, family members and advocates rally for transgender rights, Jan. 31, 2024, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. On Tuesday, July 2, a federal judge in Kansas blocked a federal rule expanding anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ students from being enforced in four states, including Kansas, and a patchwork of places elsewhere across the nation.
John Hanna/AP
Law & Courts Student Says Snapchat Enabled Teacher's Abuse. Supreme Court Won't Hear His Case
The high court, over a dissent by two justices, decline to review the scope of Section 230 liability protection for social media platforms.
4 min read
The United States Supreme Court is seen in Washington, D.C., on July 1, 2024.
The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington, D.C., on July 1, 2024. The high court declined on July 2 to take up a case about whether Snapchat could be held partially liable for a teacher's sexual abuse of a student.
Aashish Kiphayet/NurPhoto via AP
Law & Courts What the Supreme Court's Chevron Decision Could Mean for Biden's Title IX Rule
The decision overrules a 40-year-old precedent and could impact lawsuits challenging the final Title IX rule.
5 min read
Visitors pose for photographs at the U.S. Supreme Court on June 18, 2024, in Washington.
Visitors pose for photographs at the U.S. Supreme Court on June 18, 2024, in Washington. The high court on June 28 overruled a longtime precedent and held that courts, not federal agencies, have the primary authority to interpret ambiguous federal statutes.
Jose Luis Magana/AP
Law & Courts Religious Charter School Is Unconstitutional, Oklahoma Supreme Court Rules
The state high court says the planned Catholic virtual charter school violates a state provision against aid to 'sectarian' institutions.
4 min read
The Oklahoma Supreme Court is pictured in the state Capitol building in Oklahoma City, May 19, 2014. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, June 25, 2024, that the approval of the nation's first state-funded Catholic charter school, St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School, is unconstitutional.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court is pictured in the state Capitol building in Oklahoma City, May 19, 2014. The high court ruled Tuesday, June 25, 2024, that the approval of the nation's first state-funded Catholic charter school, St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School, is unconstitutional.
Sue Ogrocki/AP