by Trevor Brown.
The Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its vaccine-or-test requirements for private companies today. However, they allowed similar requirements to stand for medical facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid payments.
The mandate would have required that workers at businesses with 100 or more employees must get vaccinated or submit a negative Covid test weekly to enter the workplace. It also required non-vaccinated workers to wear masks indoors at work.
“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 wrote in an unsigned opinion.
“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,” the court wrote.
But in a separate, simultaneously released ruling on the administration’s vaccination rules for health-care workers, the court wrote, “We agree with the Government that the [Health and Human Services] Secretary’s rule falls within the authorities that Congress has conferred upon him.”
The Biden administration argued before the high court Friday that the rules were necessary to address the “grave danger” posed by the Covid pandemic. Some justices, sympathetic to the government’s position, highlighted some concerns regarding the death tole.
But the majority of the court seemed skeptical of the move.
Chief Justice John Roberts, said during arguments that he thinks it’s hard to argue that the 1970 law governing OSHA “gives free reign to the agencies to enact such broad regulation.”
The vaccine-or-test rules faced or is facing lawsuits from 27 states.
The mandates were the most expansive use of power by the federal government to protect workers from Covid since the pandemic began.