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The U.S. Supreme Court will consider a legal challenge to New York City’s vaccine mandate from educators who were denied religious exemptions to vaccination. Earlier this month, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who oversees emergency appeals from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, rejected the appeal without comment.

Attorneys representing the educators sent the appeal to justice Neil Gorsuch, who forwarded it to the whole court to consider. The justices will convene in early March to decide whether to grant emergency relief. It will only require the support of four of the nine justices, versus five, the usual number of votes required to hear a case in the country’s highest court.

“Thousands of teachers were denied accommodation under New York City’s blatantly discriminatory policy,” said Sujata Gibson, an attorney with Gibson Law Firm, PLLC and one of the lead attorneys on the case. “The Department of Education went so far as to zealously argue that Buddhists and non-denominational Christians should be denied because the Catholic Pope disagrees with them, or that Jewish applicants should be denied because a Jewish leader they never met and do not follow made comments in support of vaccines to the Israeli press.”

Plaintiffs are represented by Children’s Health Defense President and General Counsel Mary Holland and Gibson as well as the law firm Nelson Madden Black, which specializes in litigation defending religious freedom.

Most plaintiffs come from the Teachers for Choice and Educators for Freedom, two grassroots organizations of educators fighting for their rights and religious freedoms.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court may grant review of this case on an emergency basis; we believe it’s an extremely important issue,” said Holland. “New York City’s religious exemption process is demonstrably unconstitutional and fails to provide the First Amendment protections due to every American. We hope the court will review the case and set the record straight; religious rights are foundational and must be recognized by government.”