Supreme Court halts COVID-19 vaccine rule for US businesses

Supreme Court halts COVID-19 vaccine rule for US businesses

Supreme Court halts COVID-19 vaccine rule for US businesses

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has stopped the Biden administration from enforcing a requirement that employees at large businesses be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing and wear a mask on the job.

Quick reactions ...

Ortiz, Alfredo (JCN) Ortiz

"The Supreme Court has stood up for small businesses by staying this illegal employer vaccine mandate. The court has confirmed what JCN has long argued: OSHA does not have the authority to implement this sweeping regulation that will burden American businesses, including many small businesses, with new costs and exacerbate the historic labor shortage. By issuing this stay, the Supreme Court has freed small businesses to focus on bringing the economy back to its pre-pandemic peak."

Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO
Job Creators Network

Shackelford, Kelly (First Liberty Institute) Shackelford

"We're pleased that the Supreme Court is preventing this unconstitutional mandate from going into effect, but we hope the court will strike it down to avoid a Constitutional crisis. President Biden is not a king. He cannot federalize the nation's workforce and force employers to violate the conscience rights of their employees. We will continue to fight on behalf of our clients [American Family Association, Answers in Genesis, and Daystar Television Network] and the American people to protect them from this illegal, dangerous expansion of government power."

Kelly Shackelford
President, CEO, and Chief Counsel
First Liberty Institute

Wake, Luke (PLF attorney) Wake

"The [OSHA] case is not technically over because what will happen now is the 6th Circuit is actually going to decide the merits – the ultimate legal question. All the Supreme Court [told OSHA was that it] cannot immediately begin enforcing this mandate – but in the course of saying that, they gave a very clear signal how the 6th Circuit should rule on the merits. So, it seems like it's all but settled at this point that OSHA is going to lose this case, but it's still not 100% wrapped up."

Luke Wake, attorney
Pacific Legal Foundation

At the same time, the court is allowing the administration to proceed with a vaccine mandate for most health care workers in the U.S.

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. 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 American Family Association was among several plaintiffs in a suit against the Biden administration. That suit led to the issue being heard by SCOTUS on an expedited manner.

In dissent, the court's three liberals argued that it was the court that was overreaching by substituting its judgment for that of health experts. “Acting outside of its competence and without legal basis, the Court displaces the judgments of the Government officials given the responsibility to respond to workplace health emergencies," Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a joint dissent.

When crafting the OSHA rule, White House officials always anticipated legal challenges — and privately some harbored doubts that it could withstand them. The administration nonetheless still views the rule as a success at already driving millions of people to get vaccinated and for private businesses to implement their own requirements that are unaffected by the legal challenge.

Social media reacts to Supreme Court ruling on OSHA mandate

Matt Rinaldi, chairman of Republican Party of Texas: “The OSHA mandate was by far the most intrusive and overreaching and has been struck down, 6-3. Overall, a good day.”

Alliance Defending Freedom, religious liberty law firm: "We welcome this action & now urge the 6th Circuit to provide longstanding protection to the 80M workers who are subject to this abuse of power.”

Author-speaker Ben Shapiro, who sued to stop mandate: “We at the Daily Wire are proud that we refused to comply with the Biden vaccine mandate from the start…”

Michael Waller, senior analyst, Center for Security Policy: “This is why they want to pack the Supreme Court. They need judicial enforcement of unconstitutional mandates.”

Jason Rantz, radio talk show host: "Keep in mind: the Biden admin. always knew OSHA couldn't enforce the unconstitutional vaccine mandate on private businesses....They intentionally pushed it to put pressure on people to get vaccinated."

Todd Starnes, radio show host and author: “Breaking: Trump's Supreme Court justices save the U.S. Constitution from Biden's China Virus power grab”

Both rules had been challenged by Republican-led states. In addition, business groups attacked the OSHA emergency regulation as too expensive and likely to cause workers to leave their jobs at a time when finding new employees already is difficult.

The vaccine mandate that the court will allow to be enforced nationwide covers virtually all health care workers in the country. It applies to health care providers that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding, potentially affecting 76,000 health care facilities as well as home health care providers. The rule has medical and religious exemptions.

Decisions by federal appeals courts in New Orleans and St. Louis had blocked the mandate in about half the states. The administration already was taking steps to enforce it elsewhere.

In the healthcare case, only justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito noted their dissents. “The challenges posed by a global pandemic do not allow a federal agency to exercise power that Congress has not conferred upon it. At the same time, such unprecedented circumstances provide no grounds for limiting the exercise of authorities the agency has long been recognized to have,” the justices wrote in an unsigned opinion, saying the “latter principle governs” in the healthcare cases.

More than 208 million Americans, 62.7% of the population, are fully vaccinated, and more than a third of those have received booster shots, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.