In rare oral hearing, high court to hear rare claim of vast federal power

In rare oral hearing, high court to hear rare claim of vast federal power

In rare oral hearing, high court to hear rare claim of vast federal power

The highest court in the land is set to hear a major case this week: whether the federal government can force your employer to force you to get a COVID shot, and use a federal agency to make it happen, but a First Amendment attorney says a 5th Circuit ruling is a good sign personal liberty will prevail.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Friday, January 7, in a surprise special session that was announced by the justices before Christmas. The nine-member court will hear two vaccine mandate appeals by the Biden administration: one related to forced vaccination of medical workers and the second related to an OSHA rule forcing businesses to vaccinate their employees or get fined and punished if they fail to do so.

The legal showdown Friday comes after a federal deadline for compliance, Jan. 4, has come and gone which affected private businesses through OSHA and affected health care workers who work in facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds.

The looming court fight also comes after state governors, trade associations, doctors and nurses, non-profits, and private businesses flooded the courts with lawsuits after President Joe Biden claimed in September he has the executive authority to mandate a COVID-19 vaccination for an estimated 84 million Americans.

“We’ve been patient,” Biden lectured unvaccinated and free Americans in an address from the White House. “But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us.”  

Now, almost four months later, the Biden administration has won a decision at the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Court of Appeals but witnessed legal setbacks in court rulings at the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the St. Louis-based 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, The Associated Press reported.

According to National Law Review, the high court’s session this Friday is unusual because it rarely holds oral arguments on an emergency appeal. A single justice usually rules in that situation but it appears numerous federal judges, regardless of their ideological beliefs, agree that the full court needs to hear the two cases.

When the justices hear the cases, they will address whether the mandates should be preliminarily enjoined while there is ongoing litigation in the lower courts, according to NLR.

Justin Butterfield, an attorney with First Liberty Institute, tells American Family News the 5th Circuit issued a “really good opinion” that ruled against the Biden administration and OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Agency.   

"It explained OSHA doesn't have the authority to regulate in this field, in this way,” he says, “that this is really just an egregious overstep of federal government power.”

OSHA was created in the 1970s to monitor and enforce workplace safety but Butterfield says the Biden administration is “twisting” that authority to allow OSHA to monitor and enforce the health of tens of millions of Americans.

“And it's really wrong,” he says. “It tramples over people's religious freedom rights."

In the 5th Circuit case, First Liberty is representing three faith-based clients that include Mississippi-based American Family Association. The other clients are Answers in Genesis and Daystar Television Network.

"We've maintained from the beginning that we believe the Bible is the inspired, infallible, and authoritative Word of God," AFA General Counsel Abraham Hamilton III has said of the AFA lawsuit. "It teaches us that the right of conscience is sacred and must remain inviolate. Any mandate that forces us to compel our employees, our AFA family, to be vaccinated against their wills is one that would require us to violate our family's sacred right of conscience. That is something we cannot and will not do!"

In a pre-hearing filing, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar told the high court OSHA must have the legal authority to monitor COVID-19 vaccinations in the workplace because the "danger to workers is not just grave, but worsening.

“Delaying enforcement of the [mandate] thus would likely cost many lives per day, in addition to large numbers of hospitalizations and other serious health effects,” Prelogar wrote. 


Editor's Note: The American Family Association is the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates AFN.net.