A student who sued the San Diego Unified School District over its mandate to vaccinate students against COVID-19 asked the United States Supreme Court on Dec. 10 to intervene on his behalf.
Specifically, the student at Scripps Ranch High School has asked the nation’s highest court to prevent the district from enforcing the vaccination requirement, based on religious grounds.
Judge Elena Kagan asked San Diego Unified to respond to the student’s request by 3 p.m. on Thursday, December 16.
The student’s lawsuit challenges the COVID vaccination mandate that the San Diego Unified Council approved in late September for staff and all students 16 and older. Students must receive their second dose of vaccine by Monday, December 20 to comply with the mandate, otherwise they will not be allowed to attend school in person or participate in extracurricular activities as of Monday, January 24.
The district may terminate or otherwise discipline employees who do not comply.
The Scripps Ranch student, referred to in court documents as Jill Doe, has sued the district because San Diego Unified does not allow religious exemptions to student tenure.
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Student claims district discriminates against her because of her Christian beliefs, which she says prevents her from taking COVID vaccines because historical stem cells derived from abortions were used to test vaccines. COVID vaccines do not contain any aborted cells, and stem cells are frequently used in vaccine testing.
A district attorney warned that Kagan’s request for a response does not automatically mean the Supreme Court is hearing the case.
“Federal trial and appellate court judges have thoroughly reviewed and reviewed this case, including the persistent misrepresentation of the district’s immunization program by lawyers challenging it,” said Mark Bresee, the attorney. representing San Diego Unified in the lawsuit, said in a statement. “These lawyers applied the law to the real facts and correctly concluded that the program was lawful. The only novelty is that the plaintiffs have asked the Supreme Court to intervene, which does not change anything, and when he receives an emergency request, the appointed Supreme Court judge invites the opposing party to respond in almost all cases.
San Diego Unified offers medical exemptions from the immunization mandate on a case-by-case basis, which the district says meets state rules on school vaccine requirements. The district also allows the postponement of immunization for some students, such as those who are homeless, in military families or in host families. School district leaders have said they are offering these deferrals due to potential issues with immediately securing student records.
But district leaders said they did not want to offer religious or personal belief exemptions to students because families could abuse the loophole, which would prevent many from getting vaccinated.
Unlike students, San Diego Unified staff are allowed to request religious warrant exemptions because federal law allows such requests, district officials said.
Lawyers for student Scripps Ranch argue that it is discriminatory for the district to offer students and staff exceptions to warrant on secular grounds – including students under the age of 16 who have not yet need to be vaccinated – but not for religious reasons.
“The San Diego Unified School District appears to believe that medical reasons, secular status, concerns about FDA approval, administrative convenience, and accommodating adult consciences are important enough to warrant the authorization of people not. vaccinated to come to school, “Jeffrey Trissell, an attorney representing the Scripps Ranch student, said in a statement. “Yet a student with sincere religious beliefs is treated harshly and banned from face-to-face classes and athletics. This discriminatory treatment triggers strict control under the free exercise clause.
School district officials stressed that although postponements of vaccination are allowed for some students, these students will eventually need to be vaccinated. They also noted that California allows medical exemptions from the 10 standard school vaccines required by the state, but does not allow personal belief exemptions.
California has announced a COVID vaccination mandate for K-12 students and staff, but the state is not yet enforcing it. From now on, the state will allow students exemptions from personal and religious beliefs to this mandate.
Student Scripps Ranch sued the district in October. First, a federal district court sided with San Diego Unified. Then the student took the case to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which temporarily blocked the student immunization mandate as long as the district continued to offer postponements to pregnant students.
The district quickly lifted its postponement for pregnant students, and on December 4, the 9th Circuit lifted its block on the mandate. ??