Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor denied on Friday a request filed by a group of New York teachers to block a COVID vaccine mandate for school instructors.
New York City began on Friday enforcing vaccinations against COVID among school staff. Announced in August, the order prompted some teachers to respond to the deadline to avoid suspension or possibly losing their jobs.
Sotomayor didn’t provide any explanation for rejecting the emergency injunction filed by the teachers and didn’t have a full-court vote on the matter, according to ABC7 New York. She has the discretion to handle the application alone as she is the justice administering the Second Circuit.
Teachers Rachel Maniscalco, Evelyn Arancio, Diana Salomon, and Corinne Lynch petitioned the Supreme Court on Thursday about the emergency injunction, claiming that the mandate violates their rights.
“If permitted to take effect, the August 23 Order will force thousands of unvaccinated public-school employees to lose their jobs while other municipal employees, including those who have significant contact with children, are allowed to opt-out of the vaccine mandate through weekly COVID-19 testing,” the teachers said in their petition. “As the number of unvaccinated is small compared to that of the vaccinated, there is no basis to mandate vaccines in lieu of weekly testing.”
In response to Sotomayor’s rejection of the request, the public school teachers’ attorneys, Mark Fonte and Louis Gelormino expressed their disappointment in the SCOTUS decision and said that the government “has gone too far” in reference to the COVID vaccine mandates.
“The voices of our teachers deserved to be heard. Vaccine mandates for adults has not been argued before the Court in over a century. These unconstitutional edicts will continue throughout the nation until our Courts decide to hear our argument that the Government has gone too far,” they said in a statement.
Fonte and Gelormino added that the public schools’ loss of staff due to suspension or potential termination over the vaccine mandate will impact students.
“The teachers that our kids are so fond of will no longer be in the classroom. The safety of our children will be compromised with the absence of school safety officers,” they said.
On Monday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan reversed a temporary injunction meant to prevent the mandate from being enforced.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that as of Friday, 90 percent of Department of Education employees, 93 percent of teachers, and 98 percent of principals are vaccinated and have had at least one dose of the vaccine.
“The bottom line is this mandate has worked and the goal was to protect kids, including our youngest kids who can’t be vaccinated yet, and to ensure that families knew schools would be safe,” the mayor said Friday on MSNBC‘s Morning Joe.
Teachers’ unions have previously argued that the mandate will cause massive teachers’ shortage in schools, but de Blasio insisted that the city has many vaccinated substitute teachers that could fill in.
“We have a lot of substitute teachers, a lot of young people in particular who want to go into the teaching profession, who are ready, willing and able, who are vaccinated, who are going to take those roles immediately,” de Blasio told CNN on Wednesday.
Newsweek reached out to the Supreme Court, Fonte and Gelormino for comment but didn’t receive a response before publication time.