US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor Thursday rejected a bid to prevent New York City from enforcing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for teachers, firefighters and police officers. Sotomayor was unwilling to grant the emergency request, received on November 4, to block the policy. Petitioners brought the emergency request alongside their ongoing appeal of a lower court’s decision in favor of the city.
The challengers argued that the mandate has forced them to choose between accepting the vaccine against their “sincere religious beliefs” or losing their jobs. Although the city does offer a process for individual exemptions, the plaintiffs also challenged the availability of exceptions based on religious liberty concerns. The petitioners are represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative religious liberty group, and are supported by additional groups like New Yorkers for Religious Liberty.
Sotomayor, the justice designated to act on emergency matters arising from New York, rejected previous challenges to New York’s vaccine mandate from a police detective in August and public school teachers and assistants last year.
The COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration are strongly recommended by federal health officials and public health experts.