As the date of President Joe Biden’s workplace vaccine mandate approaches, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments as part of an emergency motion meant to stop it from taking effect. One key argument against it is the result of Biden’s own Chief of Staff, Ron Klain. Not long after Biden announced the mandate, Klain retweeted an MSNBC anchor’s remark that its implementation is “the ultimate work-around for the Federal govt”.
According to Forbes:
That was a huge mistake. During oral argument Chief Justice John Roberts specifically referenced the tweet in a negative manner. He grilled the government’s lawyer, saying: “It seems to me that it’s that the government is trying to work across the waterfront and it’s just going agency by agency. I mean, this has been referred to, the approach, as a work-around, and I’m wondering what it is you’re trying to work around.”
What Roberts is clearly implying is that Biden is trying work around the will of Congress rather than implement it. That is a dagger directly through the heart of Biden’s argument. Of the conservative Justices on the Court, he is generally considered the most moderate, and he arguably has special weight as the Chief Justice. If Klain’s gloating tweet has cost the Biden Administration Justice Robert’s trust, that was a very costly error.
Beyond the three liberal Justices on the Court, this leaves the mandate with few likely defenders. During oral argument, the Court’s newest Justice, Amy Coney Barrett, asked skeptical questions about why the mandate applied to low-risk outdoor professions like grounds-keeping as well as riskier indoor jobs. Justice Neil Gorsuch talked a lot about the “major questions doctrine”, which says that Courts should give less leeway to government agencies when their decisions are likely to have a widespread impact on the economy.
While it is unclear how quickly they will act, the Supreme Court seems poised to ultimately block the mandate.