In a mixed ruling, the US Supreme Court handed the biggest blow to Biden’s COVID overreach with rulings that included a complete block of the beleaguered President’s vaccine mandate on businesses with more than 100 employees.
The Court did, however, uphold the legality of the vaccine requirement for certain health care workers.
The mandate that was overruled by the Court, which actually went into effect on Monday, Jan. 10, was an Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule that said that businesses with at least 100 employees needed to require workers to get vaccinated or get tested weekly and wear a mask.
But the Court ruled that as an agency, OSHA lacked the authority to impose such a mandate because the law that created OSHA “empowers the [Labor Secretary Marty Walsh] to set workplace safety standards, not broad public health measures.”
“Although COVID-19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most,” the Court ruled. “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.”
For these reasons, the OSHA mandate “would significantly expand” the agency’s authority beyond the limits Congress set, the Court ruled.
Groups like the National Retail Federation — one of more than two dozen trade associations contesting the regulation — were quick to praise the court’s move blocking the OSHA rule, known as an emergency temporary standard.
“The Supreme Court’s decision to stay OSHA’s onerous and unprecedented ETS is a significant victory for employers,” the National Retail Federation’s David French said in a statement. “As NRF and other plaintiffs articulated in our briefs before the court, OSHA clearly exceeded its authority promulgating its original mandate under emergency powers without giving stakeholders the benefit of a rulemaking process.”
By contrast, the Court ruled that Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra does indeed have the authority to require all healthcare workers at institutions that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding to get the jab, unless they get medical or religious exemptions.
While multiple states argued that HHS did not have the scope to issue such a mandate, the Court noted that “healthcare facilities that wish to participate in Medicare and Medicaid have always been obligated to satisfy a host of conditions that address the safe and effective provision of healthcare, not simply sound accounting.”
Not surprisingly, the decision to halt the OSHA mandate split the court, 6-3, along the usual ideological lines.
The high court’s action allowing the health care worker rule to proceed garnered a narrow five-justice majority formed by the court’s three Democratic appointees as well as two Republican-appointed jurists, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh.