BLOW TO BIDEN: Supreme Court Halts COVID-19 Vaccine Rule For US Businesses

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(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

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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.

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 orders Thursday during a spike in coronavirus cases was a mixed bag for the administration’s efforts to boost the vaccination rate among Americans.

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.

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.

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. All nine justices have gotten booster shots.

The justices heard arguments on the challenges last week. Their questions then hinted at the split verdict that they issued Thursday.

(AP)


6 COMMENTS

  1. HEALTH CARE WORKERS SHOULD GO ON STRIKE AND HOPEFULLY PEOPLE WILL WAKE UP
    This a dictatorship!!!

    It’s so funny and sad to watch how people are so fooled by what’s going on.

    They could care less about your health, the Vaccine HARDLY WORKS, it has great risks and yet they force it onto everyone WHILE AT THE SAME TIME BLOCKING ANY ALTERNATIVES

    SICK AND EVIL

  2. This decision just means there will be more dangerous non-GMO former corporate employees left to fight over the resources of the continent after the spike proteins cause blood clots in the experimental subjects and the system collapses. Even as a non-GMO human, I’m not sure this decision is good news.

  3. Agreed
    If it worked, MAYBE there would be a point to all this nonsense
    But nobody believes at this point that the vaccine limits contracting covid- in fact at this point multiple studies around the globe show HIGHER rates of covid among the vaccinated
    Perhaps most of the unvaccinated have natural immunity which is superior? Possible but in any case it means the vaccine will not protect the people around you so it makes no sense to force it on people unless you work for big pharma or got elected by big pharma
    Oh right, that’s most of our elected officials
    Forgot

  4. what health care workers on strike? maybe 5% of them who did not vaccinate? If you really have kavod for healthcare workers who are so hard at work now (and you should), you would make sure you are vaccinated and reduce their work load.

  5. BS”D
    The covid “vax” requirement for health care workers is like the New York State requirement that students be vaccinated against hepatitis B to attend school.
    If the student has not been vaccinated against hepatitis B, he or she is excluded from school.
    If the student actually HAS hepatitis B, he or she may attend school.
    So it is for health care workers and the covid “vax.”
    If the health care worker did not get the covid vax, he or she is fired.
    But if the health care worker has/tests positive for covid, thats fine says the CDC, he or she may care for patients.

  6. The president is not a dictator. The Congress probably can enact a vaccine mandate, and the states definitely can do so. The is not about health; it’s about the limits of executive and federal power!