Supreme Court’s Sotomayor Lets New York School Vaccine Mandate Remain

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Friday refused to block New York City’s requirement that its public school teachers and employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Sotomayor denied a challenge by a group of four teachers and teaching assistants who sought to halt the vaccine mandate while litigation over the dispute continues in lower courts. Public school system workers were ordered to be vaccinated by 5 p.m. EDT on Oct. 1 or face being placed on unpaid leave until September 2022.

Sotomayor rejected the emergency request without offering an explanation or referring the matter to the full nine-member court for review. The decision mirrored one by Justice Amy Coney Barrett in August denying a bid by students at Indiana University to block that school’s vaccine mandate.

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio announced on Aug. 23 that all 148,000 staff in the largest U.S. school district would be required to submit proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. After a lower court temporarily blocked the measure – an order since lifted – the deadline was pushed to Oct. 1.

De Blasio said in a television interview on Friday that 90% of the city’s education department employees were already vaccinated with at least one dose, including 93% of teachers and 98% of school principals. 

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