United States Supreme Court Slaps Down President Biden's OSHA Federal Vaccine Mandate
President Biden and OSHA urge employers to mandate vaccination among employees in response.
The United States Supreme Court has voted 6 to 3 against President Biden’s OSHA vaccine mandate. The decision is a huge blow to Biden's efforts to use the federal government to increase vaccination rates against COVID-19. The mandate would have forced all private businesses with 100 or more employees to require vaccinations for COVID-19 and require unvaccinated workers to get regular testing. OSHA published its vaccine mandate back in November of 2021.
In an unsigned opinion letter, the court wrote:
“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. 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.”
In contrast, the three dissenting liberal Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan wrote,
“In our view, the Court’s order seriously misapplies the applicable legal standards. And in so doing, it stymies the Federal Government’s ability to counter the unparalleled threat that COVID–19 poses to our Nation’s workers. Acting outside of its competence and without legal basis, the Court displaces the judgments of the Government officials given the responsibility to respond to workplace health emergencies. We respectfully dissent.”
The court also voted 5 to 4 in favor of the vaccine mandate for most health care workers. Consequently, health care facilities receiving federal money can require health care workers to get vaccinated.
To no surprise, President Biden was not satisfied with the decision. President Biden responded to the Supreme Court’s ruling saying:
“At the same time, I am 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.”
Additionally, President Biden urged private employers to impose vaccination requirements in the government’s stead:
“The Court has ruled that my administration cannot use the authority granted to it by Congress to require this measure, but that does not stop me from using my voice as President to advocate for employers to do the right thing to protect Americans’ health and economy. I call on business leaders to immediately join those who have already stepped up – including one third of Fortune 100 companies – and institute vaccination requirements to protect their workers, customers, and communities.”
OSHA head and U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh issued a statement on the Supreme Court ruling as well:
“I am disappointed in the court’s decision, which is a major setback to the health and safety of workers across the country. OSHA stands by the Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard as the best way to protect the nation’s workforce from a deadly virus that is infecting more than 750,000 Americans each day and has taken the lives of nearly a million Americans.”
Like the president, Walsh urged employers to adopt vaccine mandates:
“We urge all employers to require workers to get vaccinated or tested weekly to most effectively fight this deadly virus in the workplace. Employers are responsible for the safety of their workers on the job, and OSHA has comprehensive COVID-19 guidance to help them uphold their obligation.”