A major push by the Biden administration to boost the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination rate has been stopped by U.S Supreme Court. It was a requirement that employees at large businesses get a vaccine or test regularly and wear a mask on the job.
At the same time, the court is also allowing the administration to proceed with a vaccine mandate for most health care workers in the U.S.
These court orders came at a time when there is a big spike in coronavirus cases caused by the omicron variant.
The court’s conservative majority concluded that the current administration is overstepping 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 and OSHA had estimated that the rule would save 6,500 lives and prevent 250,000 hospitalizations over six months.
The conservatives wrote in an unsigned opinion that, “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.”
President Joe Biden said he was “disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen to block common-sense life-saving requirements for employees at large businesses that were grounded squarely in both science and the law.”
Keep it in mind that President Biden called on businesses earlier to institute their own vaccination requirements, noting that a third of Fortune 100 companies already have done so.
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 encouraging private businesses to implement their own requirements that are unaffected by the legal challenge.
The OSHA regulation had initially been blocked by a federal appeals court in New Orleans, then allowed to take effect by a federal appellate panel in Cincinnati.
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. Both rules had been challenged by Republican-led states.