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Supreme Court Blocks Biden Vaccine Mandate for Businesses


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Jan. 13, 2022 — The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday overturned President Joe Biden’s mandate for a vaccine for large corporations, but said a similar mandate might persist while challenges to the rules travel through lower courts.

The vote was 6-3 against the large business mandate and 5-4 in favor of the health care worker mandate.

Biden’s proposed corporate vaccine mandate covered every company with more than 100 employees. It will require those companies to ensure that employees are either vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19.

In its ruling, the majority of court members described the plan as a “blunt instrument”. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was to enforce the rule, but the court ruled that the authorization was outside the agency’s jurisdiction.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has never imposed such an authorization before. Neither does Congress. In fact, although Congress has enacted important legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic, it has rejected enactment of any measure similar to what OSHA has issued here,” the majority wrote.

The court said the authorization “is not a ‘day-to-day exercise of federal power’. It is instead a significant infringement on the life – and health of – a large number of employees.”

Anthony Kress, professor of constitutional law at Georgia State University in Atlanta, said the ruling shows that “the court failed to understand the unprecedented situation created by the pandemic and unnecessarily hampered the government’s ability to act.

“It is hard to imagine a situation in dire need of rapid action from a national public health emergency, which a majority of the Court does not seem to appreciate.”

While the Biden administration has argued that COVID-19 is an “occupational hazard” and therefore subject to OSHA’s authority to regulate, the court said it did not agree.

“Although COVID-19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, for the most part it is not an occupational hazard. COVID-19 can spread at home, at schools, during sporting events, and anywhere else people congregate,” the judges wrote. “.

This type of global risk, they said, is “not unlike the daily dangers everyone faces from crime, air pollution, or any number of infectious diseases.”

But in their dissent, Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan said COVID-19 “spreads in confined spaces, so it causes harm in nearly all work environments. And in those environments, more than in any other environment, individuals have little control, and therefore The ability to mitigate risks is limited.”

This means, the minority said, that COVID-19 “is a threat in the workplace.”

They said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is tasked with “protecting employees” from “significant danger” from “new hazards” or exposure to harmful agents. COVID-19 sure qualifies for that.

“The court order seriously misapplication of applicable legal standards,” the opposition says. “In doing so, it thwarts the ability of the federal government to address the unparalleled threat that COVID-19 poses to our nation’s workers.”

This is an evolving story. Please come back for updates.

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