Supreme Court Blocks Biden’s Covid Vaccine Mandate for Businesses, Allows Rule to Paramedics

A demonstrator holds a “Freedoms and mandates don’t mix” sign outside the U.S. Supreme Court during a dispute over two federal coronavirus vaccination mandates in Washington, D.C., U.S. Friday, January 7, 2022.

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration from enacting its sweeping vaccine or test requirements for large private companies, but allowed similar requirements for healthcare facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid payments.

The rulings came three days after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s emergency measure went into effect.

The mandate required workers in businesses with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated or test negative for Covid weekly to go to work. It also required unvaccinated workers to wear masks indoors at work.

“While Congress undeniably gave OSHA the power to regulate occupational hazards, it did not give that agency the authority to regulate public health more broadly,” the court wrote in an unsigned opinion.

“The requirement to vaccinate 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls into the second category,” the court wrote.

But in a separate, simultaneously promulgated ruling on the administration’s rules for vaccinating medical workers, the court wrote: “We agree with the Government that [Health and Human Services] The Board of the Secretary is subject to the powers vested in it by Congress.”

OSHA, which oversees workplace safety for the Department of Labor, issued mandates under its congressional emergency powers. OSHA could shorten the normal rule-making process, which could take years, if the secretary of labor decides a new workplace safety standard is needed to protect workers from serious danger.

The Biden administration said in the Supreme Court on Friday that the rules are needed to address the “grave danger” posed by the Covid pandemic. Liberal judges, clearly sympathetic to the government’s position, have highlighted the huge death toll from the pandemic and the unprecedented wave of contagion that has swept across the country due to the micro-option.

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But the conservative majority of 6 to 3 expressed deep skepticism about the federal government’s actions.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, stated during the controversy that he thought it was difficult to argue that the 1970 law governing OSHA “gives agency leeway to enact such broad regulation.”

Vaccination or testing regulations have faced a slew of lawsuits from 27 states with Republican attorneys general or governors, private businesses, religious groups, and national industry groups such as the National Retail Federation, the American Trucking Associations, and the National Federation of Independent Business.

The mandates were the widest use of power by the federal government to protect workers from Covid since the start of the pandemic.

This is the latest news. Please stay tuned for updates.

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