The U.S. Supreme Court said Wednesday that it will consider a request to block the vaccine mandate for New York City public workers, in a reversal of a previous decision.
CNN reported that the employees who petitioned the Supreme Court have been suspended for refusing to get vaccinated and could be terminated. The Supreme Court is expected to review their petition in early March.
The group of four public school teachers and staff initially petitioned Justice Sonia Sotomayor in September to take up the question of whether an emergency injunction was warranted to prevent Department of Education employees from facing consequences for non-compliance with the vaccine mandate. She denied the request on October 1st without referring it to the full panel of judges.
Despite multiple lawsuits challenging the city’s vaccine mandate — one of which resulted in a local order blocking it temporarily – the policy was allowed to take effect for education employees on October 4th. Public school employees were required to have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by that date to avoid being placed on unpaid leave.
But the group that sought to bring the case to the Supreme Court has not backed down. After getting rejected by Sotomayor, they renewed their request with Justice Neil Gorsuch, who referred the case to the full court.
Law Department spokesperson Nick Paolucci said the city remained confident in its legal stance.
"This referral to the full Court is standard practice when litigants make repeat applications," he said in an email. "The fact remains that plaintiffs have made no case for relief. Both lower courts, as well as Justice Sotomayor, have already rejected plaintiffs’ efforts to block the mandate."
On Monday, Mayor Eric Adams confirmed 1,430 city workers had been fired for not complying with the vaccine mandate, including 914 DOE staff, Politico reported. The employees had been on unpaid leave since November.
This story has been updated with additional comment.