The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Supreme Court declines to block a vaccine mandate for New York City public schools

Supreme Court will not block vaccine mandate

The Supreme Court on Friday declined without comment an attempt to block New York City’s requirement that public school teachers receive coronavirus vaccinations.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the justice charged with handling emergency requests from that region of the country, denied the request without referring the issue to the full court or asking for a response from New York. That generally is a sign that the high court believed the request lacked a compelling legal argument.

New York City’s 150,000 school employees had until 5 p.m. Friday to show proof of vaccination or to obtain a religious or medical exemption. If they fail to, the city can remove them from the payrolls. A group of educators challenging the requirement lost in lower courts and made a last-ditch pitch to the Supreme Court.

In August, Justice Amy Coney Barrett took a similar path as Sotomayor in denying a bid by a group of Indiana University students to block that a vaccine mandate at that school.

— Robert Barnes

Alex Jones loses suits over Sandy Hook

Alex Jones, the right-wing conspiracy theorist and founder of Infowars, is responsible for all damages in two lawsuits stemming from his false claims that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a “giant hoax,” a judge ruled.

District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble of Travis County, Tex., issued default judgments Monday against Jones and Infowars after he did not comply with court orders to give information in a pair of 2018 lawsuits brought against him by families of two children killed in the 2012 massacre.

Jones repeatedly failed to hand over evidence to the court supporting his damaging and erroneous claims that the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., which killed 26 people, 20 of whom were young children, was a “false flag” operation that had been carried out by “crisis actors.”

Gamble’s ruling, which was unsealed Thursday, lambasted Jones and his website’s parent company, Free Speech Systems, for having “intentionally disobeyed” the court’s requests and showing “flagrant bad faith and callous disregard” in not turning over documents related to this and other lawsuits filed against him. Jones has already lost a number of defamation lawsuits related to his Sandy Hook falsehoods and was previously ordered to pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to families who have sued him. Nine families of children at Sandy Hook have sued him over the years.

“An escalating series of judicial admonishments, monetary penalties, and non-dispositive sanctions have all been ineffective at deterring the abuse,” Gamble wrote. Jones also has been banned from major platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Spotify for violating their hate speech policies.

— Timothy Bella

Police: School worker shot by former student

A former student of a Houston charter school shot and wounded a school employee Friday morning before surrendering, authorities said.

The man had shot through a locked glass door at Yes Prep Southwest Secondary, then shot the employee in the back, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said. The employee was in serious condition at a hospital, Finner said. No students were hurt, the school said in a statement.

Police did not release the name of the wounded employee or the shooter but said they were able to identify him as a former student. Police also did not release a motive, but Finner said authorities were investigating whether the shooter and wounded man had past interactions.

— Associated Press