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U.S. Federal Judge blocks New York City’s school Covid-19 vaccine mandate

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – U.S. Federal Judge issued a temporary restraining order against New York City’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate for teachers. Another Department of Education determination is on hold after a federal judge granted a request to block it temporarily late Friday.

Plaintiffs, a group of teachers, asked for a temporary injunction pending review by a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

U.S. Appeals Court Judge Joseph Bianco. (Photo internet reproduction)
U.S. Appeals Court Judge Joseph Bianco. (Photo internet reproduction)

In a one-page order, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Joseph Bianco, a George W. Bush nominee, granted the request. The panel will now decide whether to impose an injunction pending appeal or allow the vaccine mandate to take effect. Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have reportedly submitted a formal request to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the emergency use authorization (EUA) of their Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 years.

Rachel Maniscalco and three other New York City Department of Education workers sued over the mandate, which was supposed to start on Sept. 27.

They said the order, which requires all workers to prove they’ve received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, is government overreach, violating the U.S. Constitution’s Due Process Clause. That clause states in part that no state can “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

The suit said that the right to pursue a profession is a liberty interest and the mandate, which threatens to cost workers who don’t comply their jobs, interferes with it.

U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan, another George W. Bush nominee, earlier this week declined to block the mandate, ruling plaintiffs failed to show they would likely succeed in their suit. That prompted an appeal and led to Bianco’s ruling.

It’s not clear when the three-judge panel will make their decision.

In a statement to news outlets, the city’s Department of Education (DOE) said it was confident the mandate will ultimately be upheld “once all the facts have been presented because that is the level of protection our students and staff deserve.”

“Our current vax-or-test mandate remains in effect, and we’re seeking speedy resolution by the Circuit Court next week. Over 82 percent of DOE employees have been vaccinated, and we continue to urge all employees to get their shot by September 27,” the agency added.

Unions have urged the city to delay or restructure the mandate, asserting it would lead to teacher shortages. Some schools have dozens of unvaccinated staffers, Mark Cannizzaro, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, a union representing principals in the city, told reporters earlier Friday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, has refused to delay.

“We’ve been planning all along. We have a lot of substitutes ready, but I think the big story here is going to be that the vast majority, the overwhelming majority of teachers and staff are going to come in vaccinated to serve our kids next week,” he said on a radio show Friday.

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