WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Friday denied a request from a group of New York City public school teachers seeking to block a vaccine mandate for employees who were not given a religious exemption.
Their appeal was directed to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who handles cases from that region. She rejected an earlier challenge, filed in October, to the city’s vaccine mandate. She rejected the teachers' latest appeal with no explanation, which is the court’s usual procedure.
Sotomayor did not ask the city for a response, either — another sign that the request for an injunction would likely fail.
The emergency appeal, filed this week, argued the city was violating the religious freedom of school employees by declining to accept some of their reasons for seeking an exception. The city’s policy says requests must include support from a religious official, for example, which disqualifies employees who don’t belong to a specific religious organization.
Requests for exemption have also been denied to employees if the leader of their religious organization has spoken publicly in favor of getting the vaccine. That means objections are not honored for many Catholics, the appeal said, given the pope’s endorsement of vaccinations.
Many of the employees, including teachers, supervisors and school staff members, have been told they will be fired if they do not either get the vaccine by Feb. 14 or agree to remain on leave without pay and drop their objection to the policy.