On Thursday, the Supreme Court blocked President Joe Biden’s administration from enforcing the vaccine and/or test mandates for large private companies. However, in the meantime, similar standards remain in place for medical facilities that accept Medicaid or Medicare payments.
Three days ago, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration began its emergency measure. This required workers at businesses with 100 or more employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Or, alternatively, they must submit a negative COVID-19 test each week to be able to come to work. Those that do not receive the vaccination must also wear masks while indoors at work.
However, now with the Supreme Court’s ruling, the vaccine and testing mandates are no longer in place for private businesses. The main issue of the order was that it had more to do with public safety, rather than occupational. Therefore, it was out of OSHA’s jurisdiction to require these precautions.
“Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly,” the court wrote in an unsigned opinion, per CNBC.
The court continued, “Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category.”
That said, this ruling does not apply to those who work in medical facilities. This is because these individuals deal directly with the health and wellness of others. As such, medical workers will still need to submit proof of vaccination or test results to access their workplaces. Mask mandates also apply to this population.
“We agree with the Government that the [Health and Human Services] Secretary’s rule falls within the authorities that Congress has conferred upon him,” the Supreme Court stated.
Supreme Court Rejects Vaccine Mandate 6 to 3
President Biden’s administration appeared before the high court on Friday to stress the necessity of the vaccine mandate. Likewise, several liberal justices spoke to the “grave danger” that the Covid pandemic poses. The justices cited the death toll from the virus as well as the spike in infections from the Omicron variant.
Congress establishes emergency power to OSHA in order to speed up the time it takes to pass new laws in the face of occupational crisis.
However, ultimately, the court voted 6 to 3 on the vaccine mandate, the conservative majority opposing the order.
Chief Justice John Roberts stated that he doesn’t believe the 1970 law that defines OSHA’s responsibilities “gives free reign to the agencies to enact such broad regulation.”
Besides the recent federal case, the vaccine mandate has faced pushback and lawsuits from 27 states. According to CNBC, these were states with “Republican attorneys general or governors, private businesses, religious groups and national industry groups.”