Court suspends San Diego schools vax warrant while hearing appeal


  • Order suspends warrant while student challenges it on religious grounds
  • Court cites automatic exemption for pregnant students as reason for stay

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(Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Sunday barred the San Diego public school district from enforcing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students as it hears an appeal from a high school student and her parents who have stated that taking the vaccine would violate the student’s religious beliefs.

At a glance 2-1 orderU.S. 9th Court of Appeals Judges Marsha Berzon and Mark Bennett said the warrant would be suspended as long as the school district granted automatic exemptions to all pregnant students and the suspension would be lifted if that exemption was granted. deleted. The district mandate does not provide for religious exemptions.

“Although the case is still in its early stages, it is a significant victory,” said Paul Jonna of LiMandri & Jonna, an attorney for the plaintiffs, in a statement. “The San Diego Unified School District should quickly revise its policy to include religious exemptions for students.”

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A district attorney could not be reached immediately for comment.

The plaintiffs, who are not identified by name, had argued that students seeking religious exemptions from the warrant were treated differently from other students.

U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo in San Diego on Nov. 18 dismissed their request for a temporary injunction blocking the warrant.

Berzon and Bennett wrote that they were issuing the order out of “excess of caution” because Monday was the last day students could be vaccinated and comply with the warrant, which applies to students 16 and older. They did not give details of their reasoning.

Circuit judge Sandra Ikuta wrote in partial dissent that she would suspend the mandate as long as “any student”, not just pregnant students, is treated differently from those seeking religious exemptions. She did not develop further.

Courts have generally upheld vaccination mandates imposed by schools in the face of a host of legal challenges.

The case is Doe v. San Diego Unified School District et al, 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 21-56259.

For the complainants: Paul Jonna of LiMandri & Jonna; and Christopher Ferrara of the Thomas More Society

For the school district: Mark Bresee of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Rom

Read more:

U.S. Supreme Court Sotomayor clears vaccine warrant in New York schools

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