Supreme Court justice Sotomayor rejects NYC teachers’ appeal for a religious exemption

The Supreme Court rejected New York City school teachers’ appeal for a religious exemption at the vaccination mandate deadline.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor offered no explanation in her rejection of the emergency appeal that had been submitted Tuesday by 15 New York Department of Education (NYDOE) workers, according to the New York Post.

The group of teachers stated in their appeal that refusing their exemption request to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate was a violation of their religious freedoms.

This last-ditch effort is not the first time that Sotomayor has denied an appeal to vaccine mandates from the NYC teachers.

In September 2021, an emergency request was submitted to the Supreme Court blocking the initial vaccine mandate from the NYDOE. Sotomayor refused to refer the case to the Supreme Court, without explanation again and did so within 24 hours of the request.

At the time, the city had stated that it would allow exemptions for medical or religious reasons after pushback from the teachers’ union.

However, the city stipulated that a religious exemption request must be endorsed by positions taken by religious leaders. Leaders like Catholic Pope Francis have spoken out in favor of the vaccine, voiding the religious exemption policy of the city.

Now, these teachers are facing termination as NYC Mayor Eric Adams (D) has said he will continue the mandate imposed by former Mayor Bill de Blasio (D). In effect, this mandate results in the termination of nearly 4,000 city employees.

Sotomayor’s refusal to hear these appeals is sure to draw controversy as she has already been called out for statements of bias and misinformation during Supreme Court hearings on the federal mandate imposed by the Biden administration.

Sotomayor touched on the issue of hospitalized children as a result of COVID-19 and claimed, “We have over 100,000 children, which we’ve never had before, in serious condition…and many on ventilators.”

The reality, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, was 3.342 at the time.

Sotomayor’s remarks on the constitutionality of federal mandates raised eyebrows as well.  “I’m not sure I understand the distinction,” Sotomayor said of mandates, “why the states would have the power but the federal government wouldn’t.”

Liz Mair, a political consultant pointed Sotomayor to the text of the constitution.

The decision by Sotomayor to refuse to hear the appeal from the NYC teachers follows remarks made by the justice during a virtual appearance at New York University Law School where she expressed her concerns over partisanship in the court, ABC News reported.

Sotomayor expressed her concerns over the voting and selection process of justices saying, “The emphasis to pick nominees with extensive writings and publicly expressed views on precedents of the court can be viewed as a way…to control a judge from changing his or her mind.”

She followed that with remarks on “an obligation to keep open minds,” emphasizing the importance “that we are willing to change with time and experience. If we don’t show it, people will believe – perhaps wrongly – that we are just political creatures and not independent judges.”


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