OSHA will not be allowed to impose its vaccine and testing rules on employers with over 100 workers.
On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it was blocking President Joe Biden’s federal COVID-19 vaccine-or-test mandate for employers with at least 100 employees in a 6-3 decision.
However, the Court did allow a vaccine mandate for health care workers at federally funded health care facilities to take effect in a 5-4 decision.
Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan dissented from the majority in the business-related matter while Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Barrett dissented from the decision to allow the health care worker mandate take effect.
On the business mandate, that requirement went into effect on Monday, January 10th when the Department of Labor through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) was allowed to implement its rules following the decision from the 6th Circuit to lift the stay issued by the 5th Circuit.
Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch wrote that Congress has not clearly assigned that much power to OSHA.
“The agency claims the power to force 84 million Americans to receive a vaccine or undergo regular testing. By any measure, that is a claim of power to resolve a question of vast national significance. Yet Congress has nowhere clearly assigned so much power to OSHA,” Gorsuch opined.
Gorsuch goes on to say that the question before the Court is not how to respond to the pandemic, but who holds the power to do so.
“The answer is clear: Under the law as it stands today, that power rests with the States and Congress, not OSHA,” the Justice writes.
As for the health care worker decision, the majority of Justices wrote that Congress has authorized the Secretary of Health and Human Services to impose conditions on the receipt of Medicaid and Medicare funds that “the Secretary finds necessary in the interest of the health and safety of individuals who are furnished services.”
“COVID–19 is a highly contagious, dangerous, and—especially for Medicare and Medicaid patients—deadly disease,” the majority continues, adding, “The Secretary of Health and Human Services determined that a COVID–19 vaccine mandate will substantially reduce the likelihood that healthcare workers will contract the virus and transmit it to their patients.”
Reaction from Mississippi officials
Attorney General Lynn Fitch (R)
“The Biden Administration’s vaccine mandates reach far beyond any common understanding of the limits of federal agencies. We are pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed that the Administration’s emergency mandate on American businesses is beyond its statutory authority. About 84 million American workers can tonight breathe a sigh of relief that their liberties will not be supplanted by the President’s desire to check the box on 100% vaccination.
“While we are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not reach the same conclusion on the Administration’s mandate on our healthcare heroes, we will continue to fight to protect the millions impacted by the other outstanding mandates issued on federal contractors and subcontractors and on Head Start teachers, volunteers, and pre-schoolers.”
Senator Roger Wicker (R)
President Biden’s private sector vaccine mandate was always unwarranted and overbearing. I am glad that the Supreme Court has curbed runaway executive overreach and ensured that individual liberty does not become a casualty of this pandemic.https://t.co/D9BmVJSa49
— Senator Roger Wicker (@SenatorWicker) January 13, 2022
Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R)
The #SCOTUS decision to block @POTUS unconstitutional #vaccine mandate on private businesses is a big win for American workers. Many are breathing a sigh of relief that there are still some limits to government overreach over our individual liberty.
— U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (@SenHydeSmith) January 13, 2022
Congressman Steven Palazzo (R)
I’m encouraged by the news that the highest court in the land blocked Biden’s unconstitutional vaccine mandates for large workplaces. Americans have the fundamental freedom to make their own medical decisions and won’t be bullied into those decisions by Joe Biden.
— Cong. Steven Palazzo (@CongPalazzo) January 13, 2022
Congressman Michael Guest (R)
Last week, I joined an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in opposition to the OSHA issued vaccine mandate on businesses with at least 100 employees. OSHA does not have the authority to issue such a mandate, and it should be overturned by the court.
— Congressman Michael Guest (@RepMichaelGuest) January 13, 2022