Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Thursday denied a request from a group of New York City public sector workers who sought to block their employers’ COVID-19 vaccine requirement on religious grounds.
Sotomayor, who handles emergency matters arising from New York, appeared to reject the request herself without referring the matter to the full court, according to the brief order.
The challengers comprised a group called New Yorkers for Religious Liberty, as well as public schoolteachers, firefighters, sanitation workers and law enforcement officers. They claimed that New York City’s policy runs afoul of religious protections by forcing workers to choose between their jobs or taking the vaccine in violation of their religious beliefs.
The group argued that although New York City’s vaccine mandate nominally provides for individualized religious exemptions, those accommodations are made on an arbitrary basis.
The court has previously denied vaccine mandate challenges by Maine health care workers, New York City public school teachers and a group of Indiana University students.
In a pair of separate high-profile challenges, the Supreme Court earlier this year blocked the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers, but allowed a vaccine-only mandate for health providers at federally funded facilities.