A protester holds a poster at a rally against the introduction of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines outside the New York State Capitol in Albany, New York, USA, January 5, 2022.
Mike Segar | Reuters
On Friday, the Supreme Court is ready to hear oral arguments in two cases challenging the Biden administration’s demands for Covid vaccinations and testing requirements for private businesses and healthcare professionals.
Arguments are due to start at 10am ET.
The debate, which focuses on whether the federal government has the power to enforce broad public health requirements, reaches a high court as the global pandemic enters its third year.
Contenders for the rules include business associations, Republican-led states, and religious groups.
An OSHA rule that requires workers to be vaccinated or tested for Covid weekly applies to companies with 100 or more employees. A Department of Health and Human Services rule requires healthcare professionals to be vaccinated at facilities that treat Medicare and Medicaid patients.
According to the White House, these two mandates cover roughly two-thirds of all US workers — about 100 million Americans.
President Joe Biden published decrees in early November, weeks before the first discovery of the highly transmissible omicron variant, raised infection rates to staggering highs across the country.
A few days later, the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the entry into force of the business mandate, ruling by a three-judge panel that its claims were “staggeringly excessive.”
But another federal appeals court reinstated the rule in December, ruling that OSHA has historically had broad safety mandate, highlighting the danger to workers posed by the pandemic.
Early evidence suggests that omicron infections are generally less serious than previous versions of the coronavirus, although vaccinations remain an effective defense against hospitalization and death from Covid, health experts say.
All nine Supreme Court justices were vaccinated against Covid, and all received boosters. The court heard arguments for most of the pandemic by broadcasting live audio recordings of court hearings for the first time in its history. They returned to personal disputes last October, while retaining the building. closed to the public and the implementation of other security measures related to the pandemic.
This is a developing story. Keep for updates.