OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving vaccine mandates in New York City, opening the door to a potentially monumental decision regarding authority wielded by state and local governments.
The case involves an NYPD detective, Anthony Marciano, who has filed suit against the Big Apple over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Last month, left-leaning Justice Sonia Sotomayor turned down a request by Marciano to further examine his legal challenge. However, he resubmitted the very same request to right-leaning Justice Clarence Thomas, and, according to the SCOTUS press office on Tuesday, the high court has taken the case and it is scheduled for deliberation at an Oct. 7 conference, Politico reported.
An attorney for the detective told the outlet that his client decided to approach Thomas because of his past stances on issues.
“I reapplied to Justice Thomas, who is a strict Constitutionalist,” Patricia Finn of the group Make Americans Free Again said in an interview. “I believed his previous opinions were in line with what I was arguing.”
The outlet noted:
Marciano sued the city last year challenging a policy requiring municipal workers be inoculated against Covid-19. He did not qualify for religious or medical exemptions, but instead argued he’d acquired immunity through his front-line service and should be free to make his own decision about getting the jab.
His case began in state court and was quickly kicked up to the federal level. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals denied his request for a stay of the vaccine mandate while his case plays out, so he asked the Supreme Court to grant him that injunction or strike down the city’s policy altogether.
News that the nation’s highest court agreed to hear Marciano’s case came as NYC Mayor Eric Adams ended the vaccine mandate for the private sector and students taking part in after-school activities while keeping it in place for city workers and staff.
Finn, the attorney, noted that the Supreme Court’s decision may grant the injunction or simply decide the case on its own merits.
“It is a legal question, and facts are not in dispute,” she told Politico. “I think the court has been waiting for a case like mine. I think they are waiting for somebody to approach the issue in a very clean and straightforward way.”
Politico noted that spontaneous rulings are very rare and most injunction requests are denied.
Still, Finn said that it is a simple case: State and federal statutes bar vaccine mandates without first getting informed consent from the individual. Since Marciano did not provide his consent, according to his lawsuit, he is being denied his due process rights.
So far, however, challenges to New York City’s mandate for its workers in state and federal courts have not succeeded. Those courts have backed the city’s broad authority to order the mandates.
“The Supreme Court has rejected numerous attempts to have it take up lawsuits on the vaccine mandate and a number of other courts have upheld the mandate, recognizing that it saves lives and is a condition of employment,” Adams spokesperson Fabien Levy said in a statement.
On Monday, following reports that Adams was going to lift the private sector mandate, a union umbrella organization sent a letter to First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo and Office of Labor Relations Commissioner Renee Campion blasting the decision to leave the mandate intact for public sector workers.
“This city’s government has treated its dedicated public employees — people who prior to the availability of vaccines still got up in the morning to protect our streets, put out fires, pick up garbage, teach our children, and deliver vital social services, at risk to their own health — as disposable,” Harry Nespoli, a co-chair of the Municipal Labor Committee, which also consists of the city’s biggest public-sector unions, noted in the letter.
Greg Floyd, head of Teamsters Local 237, noted that his organization will take a wait-and-see approach regarding requests from labor chiefs to remove the public sector mandate, Politico reported.
“The first thing we are going to do is ask to have the same policy for our members who were dismissed, and we’ll take it from there,” he said, according to the outlet. “And if not, we’re going to consider legal action.”