Reported by Katie Pavlich | @KatiePavlich | Posted: Jan 13, 2022
Source: (AP Photo/LM Otero)
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday to strike down President Joe Biden’s Wuhan coronavirus vaccine mandate for private businesses. Justices upheld his executive order requiring vaccination for healthcare workers at facilities receiving federal funding.
The ruling on vaccine requirements for private businesses with more than 100 employees was decided 6-3. Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer dissented.
“The Secretary of Labor, acting through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, recently enacted a vaccine mandate for much of the Nation’s work force. The mandate, which employers must enforce, applies to roughly 84 million workers, covering virtually all employers with at least 100 employees. It requires that covered workers receive a COVID–19 vaccine, and it pre-empts contrary state laws. The only exception is for workers who obtain a medical test each week at their own expense and on their own time, and also wear a mask each workday,” the opinion states. “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. 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. 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 opinion continues.
Further, the Justices pointed out the risk from Wuhan coronavirus exists outside of the work place and therefore, limits OSHA’s regulatory power.
“COVID–19 can and does spread at home, in schools, during sporting events, and everywhere else that people gather. That kind of universal risk is no different from the day-to-day dangers that all face from crime, air pollution, or any number of 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 ruling states.
The separate ruling on vaccine requirements for healthcare workers at facilities receiving federal funding through Medicare and Medicaid was decided 5-4. Justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, Amy Coney Barrett and Samuel Alito dissented.
“The Government has not made a strong showing that this agglomeration of statutes authorizes any such rule,” Justice Thomas wrote in his dissent. “The Government proposes to find virtually unlimited vaccination power, over millions of healthcare workers, in definitional provisions, a saving clause, and a provision regarding long-term care facilities’ sanitation procedures. The Government has not explained why Congress would have used these ancillary provisions to house what can only be characterized as a ‘fundamental detail’ of the statutory scheme. Had Congress wanted to grant CMS power to impose a vaccine man- date across all facility types, it would have done what it has done elsewhere—specifically authorize one. “
This post has been updated with additional information.