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/ Categories: Government, Policy

Supreme Court blocks vaccine mandate for large employers

The Supreme Court today issued a ruling blocking a Biden administration effort to require employees of large employers to get a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly testing and wear a mask.

The court, however, allowed a vaccine mandate for most U.S. health care workers.

The court ruled 6-3 in the employer case.

The court’s conservative majority concluded the administration overstepped its authority by seeking to impose the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s vaccine-or-test rule on U.S. businesses with at least 100 employees, the Associated Press reported. More than 80 million people would have been affected.

“OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate. Nor has Congress. Indeed, although Congress has enacted significant legislation addressing the COVID–19 pandemic, it has declined to enact any measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here,” the conservatives wrote in an unsigned opinion.

The court’s three liberals argued that it was the court that was overreaching by substituting its judgments for health experts, according to the AP report.

The Supreme Court ruling is a temporary measure while other cases proceed. However, the court wrote that “the applicants are likely to prevail” and therefore granted emergency relief from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule regarding vaccines for large employers.

“Many States, businesses, and nonprofit organizations challenged OSHA’s rule in Courts of Appeals across the country. The Fifth Circuit initially entered a stay. But when the cases were consolidated before the Sixth Circuit, that court lifted the stay and allowed OSHA’s rule to take effect,” the ruling states. “Applicants now seek emergency relief from this Court, arguing that OSHA’s mandate exceeds its statutory authority and is otherwise unlawful. Agreeing that applicants are likely to prevail, we grant their applications and stay the rule.”

The court reviewed OSHA’s role as protecting employees from work-related dangers and said COVID-19 does not fall into that category but is a day-to-day danger that everyone faces such as from crime, air pollution or other communicable diseases.

“Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life—simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock—would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization,” the majority wrote in the ruling.

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