The U.S. Supreme Court refused on April 18 to hear a New York City vaccine mandate challenge from teachers, meaning the mandate will be allowed to stand.
The four teachers, who said the COVID-19-related rule violated their right to keep their profession, took their appeal to the Supreme Court after a lower court left the city's mandate in place. Those teachers previously asked Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who oversees the state, to provide relief that would block the mandate from taking effect, which Sotomayor rejected.
Under the mandate, all city Department of Education employees who didn't comply with getting the vaccine by Oct. 1, 2021, would be suspended without pay for up to one year. But the teachers argued that the rule violated their due process rights and blocked them from practicing their profession because the city's Department of Education is the only agency in the city that publicly hires teachers.
In February, New York City fired more than 1,400 employees who remained unvaccinated. The policy allows for religious and medical exemptions.
In response, however, New York City attorneys argued that the petitioners "made no attempt to explain how the vaccination requirement either prevented—or even impaired—their ability to work as teachers or paraprofessionals for another employer."
Vaccine mandates for public-sector and private-sector employees were announced in late 2021 under former Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration.
While the Supreme Court has previously blocked federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates, including a controversial Biden administration rule requiring tens of millions of private employees at many companies to receive shots, the justices have often permitted COVID-19 vaccine mandates at the local and state level.