Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor turned away an emergency application on Nov. 10 to halt New York City’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate that applies to firefighters, police officers, and other government employees.
The appeal was from workers who were fired after the city refused their requests to be exempted on religious grounds. Many people object to the various COVID-19 vaccines for religious reasons because aborted human fetal cell lines were involved in their testing, development, or production.
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a public interest law firm specializing in religious freedom cases, argued in the application filed on Nov. 2 that it was unfair that unvaccinated adult entertainers and athletes were exempted from the mandate while other unvaccinated workers were forced into compliance, and were fired if they refused the jab.
While pandemic-era restrictions have been easing in recent months, some remain.
The Supreme Court threw out a major federal vaccination mandate in January.
The high court voted 6–3 on Jan. 13 in National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) v. Department of Labor to block the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s private-sector vaccination regime. On the same day, the court ruled the opposite way in Biden v. Missouri, voting 5-4 to uphold a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rule requiring more than 10 million employees at health care facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Sotomayor decided the matter on her own, without referring the case to the full Supreme Court, which is her prerogative as a justice after receiving an emergency application. She provided no reasons for her ruling. The case is New Yorkers for Religious Liberty v. City of New York, court file 22A389.
ADF had argued in a brief supporting the application that the employees urgently needed relief because they are “suffering the loss of First Amendment rights, are facing deadlines to move out of homes in foreclosure or with past-due rents, are suffering health problems due to loss of their city health insurance and the stress of having no regular income, and resorting to food stamps and Medicaid just to keep their families afloat.”
John Bursch, senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy at ADF, said when the application was filed that “these city heroes have dedicated their lives to serving their neighbors and keeping their city running safely and efficiently, yet New York City officials suspended and fired them because they cannot take the COVID-19 vaccine without violating their sincere religious beliefs.
“But for athletes, entertainers, and strippers, the city found a way to loosen its mandate.”