The Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s COVID vaccine mandate Thursday for private businesses in a 6-3 decision while allowing a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers at facilities funded by the federal government.
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The workplace mandate was estimated to cover 80 million workers across the country.
“Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly,” the court’s conservative majority wrote. “Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category.”
Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan dissented from the decision to block the vaccine-or-test rule for private companies with more than 100 employees.
“In the face of a still-raging pandemic, this court tells the agency charged with protecting worker safety that it may not do so in all the workplaces needed,” the justices wrote. “As disease and death continue to mount, this court tells the agency that it cannot respond in the most effective way possible. Without legal basis, the court usurps a decision that rightfully belongs to others. It undercuts the capacity of the responsible federal officials, acting well within the scope of their authority, to protect American workers from grave danger.”
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Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Barrett dissented from the decision to allow the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers who treat Medicare and Medicaid patients, estimated to be more than 10 million workers.
“Neither CMS nor the Court articulates a limiting principle for why, after an un-explained and unjustified delay, an agency can regulate first and listen later, and then put more than 10 million healthcare workers to the choice of their jobs or an irreversible medical treatment,” Alito wrote.
Reactions, like the court’s opinion, were mixed online as well.
“So the Supreme Court just made the entire country mad,” said national radio host Todd Starnes. “They should’ve thrown out the entire mandate. It’s flat-out unconstitutional.
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First Liberty Institute, which represents three prominent national religious ministries –the American Family Association, Answers in Genesis, and Daystar Television Network – in related challenges to the mandate, celebrated the mixed opinon.
“We’re pleased that the Supreme Court is preventing this unconstitutional mandate from going into effect, but we hope the court will strike it down to avoid a Constitutional crisis,” said Kelly Shackelford, President, CEO, and Chief Counsel for First Liberty Institute. “President Biden is not a king. He cannot federalize the nation’s workforce and force employers to violate the conscience rights of their employees. We will continue to fight on behalf of our clients and the American people to protect them from this illegal, dangerous expansion of government power.”
Click here to read the workplace opinion.
Click here to read the healthcare workers opinion.
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