Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejected a challenge to prevent New York City from enforcing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for municipal workers against a group of teachers, firefighters, and many others who opposed the original policy.
Sotomayor denied an emergency request received Nov. 4 to block the policy by individual municipal workers and a religious liberty organization called New Yorkers For Religious Liberty. Their current appeal in the lower courts sided with the city's mandate.
The plaintiffs, firefighters, building inspectors, police officers, emergency medical technicians, teachers and sanitation workers, are represented by conservative Christian legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom.
Sotomayor was designated by the court to act on emergency matters in New York and regions in other states. She has rebuffed the challenge to New York City's mandate, including a police detective's claim in August and public school teachers and assistants last year.
In June, the court refused to acknowledge religious challenges to the mandate.
In August 2021, New York City ordered employees in the public school system to be vaccinated. Two months later, the city mandated vaccines for all municipal workers.
The plaintiffs in the most recent challenge contend the mandate violates the U.S. Constitution First Amendment on religious discrimination.
The claim is rooted in the testing and development of the vaccine relying on cell lines from aborted fetuses, which is diametrically opposed to Christian belief. However, the Vatican led by Jesuit Pope Francis told Catholics in 2020 that it is morally acceptable to use COVID-19 vaccines.
The plaintiffs sued the city three times, but federal judges ruled against them in August. The Manhattan-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied an injunction pending appeal in October.
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