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Supreme Court Blocks Biden Vaccine Mandate for Large Employers, Allows Health-Care Vaccine Requirement

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2022
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by Outside Contributor
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39 Comments
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The Supreme Court temporarily suspended the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers on Thursday, but allowed the administration’s vaccine mandate for health-care workers at facilities that receive federal funding to go into effect.

In the first case, the conservative majority on the bench ruled to block President Biden’s vaccine requirement for private businesses pending further review by the court. Biden had argued that the order derived authority from the 1971 Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which empowered the federal government to regulate workplace health and safety standards.

However, the majority opinion, issued without an author, argued that the mandate exceeded its statutory authority and raised separation of powers concerns “in the absence of clear delegation from Congress.” It was inappropriate for the Biden administration to invoke the Emergency Temporary Standard provision of the law since it applies to very “narrow circumstances,” the Court said.

“Applicants are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the Secretary lacked authority to impose the mandate. Administrative agencies are creatures of statute. They accordingly possess only the authority that Congress has provided,” the Court’s unsigned decision read.

Specifically, the Labor Secretary must demonstrate that “employees are exposed to grave danger from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards” and that the “emergency standard is necessary to protect employees from such danger.” The Court said the risk posed by Covid in the workplace failed to meet these prongs.

“Congress has nowhere clearly assigned so much power to OSHA,” Justice Gorsuch wrote in a concurring opinion joined by Justice Thomas and Justice Alito.

Moreover, the Court declared that the OSHA mandate was far too broad in treating all commercial sectors the same. While the order includes narrow exceptions for remote workers or those who work exclusively outdoors, “the regulation otherwise operates as a blunt instrument,” the court said. “It draws no distinctions based on industry or risk of exposure to COVID–19.”

While the court acknowledged the testing exemption for employees who choose not to get vaccinated, it noted that employers are not required to offer this option, leaving some employees in the vulnerable position of getting fired with no recourse.

The Court touched on the medical liberty question, calling the mandate an “encroachment into the lives and health of employees” and noting that, unlike rules for workplace dangers on the job, vaccination is irreversible.

OSHA, the Court said, was charged with regulating “occupational” hazards, exclusive to the workplace, for the safety and health of employees rather than public health generally, “which falls out of OSHA’s sphere of expertise.”

In order for the mandate to be permissible, given that Covid presents universal risk regardless of the setting, the Court said it would need to target occupation-specific risks related to the virus in certain industries, such as research laboratories.

The plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court to review the case after the Sixth Circuit court vacated the stay of the Fifth Circuit, allowing the mandate to go back into effect. The high court then admitted the case into its emergency docket and heard arguments on Friday, subsequently delivering its own stay Thursday.

In the second case dealing with the vaccine requirement for healthcare workers at facilities that receive federal funding, since those institutions fall within the government’s regulatory domain. “We agree with the Government that the Secretary’s rule falls within the authorities that Congress has conferred upon him,” the Court opinion read.

 

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Robert Collins
Robert Collins
2 years ago

Which one of the justices voted against allowing health care professionals(all hospital personnel) EMT’s ect..? Which one crossed over from the six that voted for the Constitution? I pray that state leaders will do away with these mandates so that these dedicated and highly trained professionals can save lives! This administration wants people to not be allowed the medical care they need so that they can control medical services. Vaccines are a failure but they still want to force them down the throats of all.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
2 years ago

Hooray for business alone awesome

Mary
Mary
2 years ago

The Supreme Court dropped the ball on medical tyranny. What right does a medical facility have to threaten their employees to take an experimental shot or loose their job? Isn’t this a Nuremberg violation?

Voter Ann
Voter Ann
2 years ago

So, that still leaves people like my son-in-law, who not only works REMOTELY for an insurance company in Tennessee, AND has now had COVID TWICE in the last six months and RECOVERED both times, AND has filed a religious exemption with his employer, at risk of losing his job, which supports his wife and four children, ages 12 and under.

Thanks, for nothing, John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh! You are a disgrace to the Court, the Constitution which you are sworn to uphold, and to the rule of law. (Roberts has also whined about his concerns of “overriding the legal precedent of overcoming Roe v. Wade”, which signals his willingness to uphold that horrible law just because of the Court’s vile invention of a freedom that’s non-existent. Makes me wonder whether he would have upheld equally vile Court rulings that were, eventually, changed.) The Dems must have something horrific to hold over this Justice.

FedUp
FedUp
2 years ago

Hmmm. Unconstitutional for non-health care businesses. But A-OK for health care related businesses. There seems to be no consistency in the logic.
In the general business opinion, it was roughly stated that OSHA can’t mandate rules applying to normal day to day risks, meaning they’re not job specific risks. But then SCOTUS does a 180 for health care workers and states that mandating such rules is fine simply because they receive federal funding.
So I guess the underlying statement is don’t take government funds because once you do, they own your #ss.

Hal
Hal
2 years ago

Federal mandating of vaccine shots is a violation of individual rights. Touchy, yes. But it leaves the government in an easier position to mandate all kinds of actions ‘for the health and safety” of the people. If masks are as effective as has been claimed, a person should make their own decision as to whether they are required to “mask up.” If a person has been diagnosed with CV, then I can understand mask and other restrictions on their conduct and behavior. I just think that government is hoping that as the threat of having CV declines, it will get credit for its role … thus making it easier to justify future rights restrictions on the population which will give it some however slight advantage in the political arena. That particularly fits the strategy of the Democrat Party of … RULING not just governing.

THX 1138
THX 1138
2 years ago

The People of NYC gave the Left that ban on anything larger than a 12 ounce cup of soda.
You cannot give them anything because they are never going to be satisfied.

Country Bumpkin
Country Bumpkin
2 years ago

So now medical professionals and care providers are second-class citizens that have rights equal to that of a lab rat. God bless our medical care providers!

Carol
Carol
2 years ago

I heard someone say that this ruling for health care workers should make everyone re-think the idea of universal health care or what Democrats call Medicare for all! When ever the government gets a hold of a part of society and starts funding it with tax payer money, all in that program become beholden to the federal government! If we all end up with universal health care, these kinds of mandates become permanent for EVERYONE!!! So educate your friends and family on this decision cuz it’s ramifications are going to extend to ALL government funded entities as the Blob continues to grow!

No Name
No Name
2 years ago

As a retired RN, I find the refusal to protect healthcare workers from illegal mandates abhorrent. Don’t be surprised, as time goes on, that hospitals will be shutting down as the lack of healthcare workers makes providing even ‘adequate’ care impossible!

granny26
granny26
2 years ago

They need to just get rid of ALL the stupid vaccine mandates. They do no good plus have caused more deaths and adverse reactions than covid has. It’s just all a CONTROL thing….as that is what the demonrats like to do…Control. Like CA Nazi control freak of a governor.

Rich C
Rich C
2 years ago

Kinda shows ya’ that SCOTUS is in “their” back pocket also. Scary. So, the health care system was facing a shortage of workers before this and now…….we might want to find a hospital in Mexico for plan B.

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