Supreme Court Blocks Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

Joe Ravi via Wikimedia Commons

Just three days after the OSHA’s emergency mandate took effect, the Supreme Court halted it in its tracks. The mandate 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 unvaccinated workers to wear masks indoors at work.

Justice Gorsuch authored the concurring opinion focusing primarily on the major questions doctrine, stating:

Not only must the federal government properly invoke a constitutionally enumerated source of authority to regulate in this area or any other. It must also act consistently with the Constitution’s separation of powers. And when it comes to that obligation, this Court has established at least one firm rule: “We expect Congress to speak clearly” if it wishes to assign to an executive agency decisions “of vast economic and political significance.”

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OSHA’s mandate fails that doctrine’s test. 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. Approximately two years have passed since this pandemic began; vaccines have been available for more than a year. Over that span, Congress has adopted several major pieces of legislation aimed at combating COVID–19. E.g., American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Pub. L. 117–2, 135 Stat. 4. But Congress has chosen not to afford OSHA—or any federal agency—the authority to issue a vaccine mandate.

He concludes that the matter is ultimately an issue of the legislature:

The question before us 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. In saying this much, we do not impugn the intentions behind the agency’s mandate. Instead, we only discharge our duty to enforce the law’s demands when it comes to the question who may govern the lives of 84 million Americans. Respecting those demands may be trying in times of stress. But if this Court were to abide them only in more tranquil conditions, declarations of emergencies would never end and the liberties our Constitution’s separation of powers seeks to preserve would amount to little.

The Court did, however, allow a more limited mandate to go into effect. Healthcare workers in facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid payments will be required to abide by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ vaccine mandate. While it does allow for medical and religious exemptions, the rule does not appear to allow weekly tests as an alternative to the vaccine.

UPDATE: President Joe Biden released a statement in response to the ruling urging business owners to implement their own vaccine mandates.

As a result of the Court’s decision, it is now up to States and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees, and whether their businesses will be safe for consumers during this pandemic by requiring employees to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated. 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.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki indicated the White House will not immediately attempt to issue a more targeted vaccine mandate.

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Shelley
Shelley
14 days ago

The government should not be permitted to even pass laws that take away our rights to make our own medical decisions with our doctors! A one-size-fits-all solution is NO solution at all. Everyone has their own medical issues, which in some cases would be against getting these vaccines. So while the court did stop the mandate in some cases, it is still allowing it in others. It should NEVER be forced upon anyone! It should all be a personal choice and exemptions should not even be necessary because it should be a choice.

William Petite
William Petite
14 days ago

No govt. should never force anyone to take medicine, they don’t wish to. It is a violation of their human rights. This so-called vax doesn’t even protect anyone from the virus. This is gene therapy, not a vax. The proof is out there, those with this vax. are still getting the virus, the damage if any, done to the human body will not be known for years. They should be mass producing the treatment that fights this virus and getting it out for the people. Taking tests, is not treatment, sending them home to isolate, is not treatment, and mandating this fake vax, is not treatment.

John Pilitsis, PhD
John Pilitsis, PhD
13 days ago

Besides violating our individual human rights, this government mandate requires its citizen to take drugs which are not proven through standard approval protocols and have only received emergency FDA approval.
Absent these qualification data ,which have not been made available in the public domain,this request by POTUS is unethical!!!
Why have we not learn from all the atrocities committed in Africa with unproven and invalidated vaccines. Thousands of African children have experience detrimental long term effects while Pharma companies continue to profit from these unethical practices.

Jawad
Jawad
13 days ago

So Kavanaugh and Roberts (of course) failed to protect the constitutional rights of health care workers, who now must take the jab. What if both of those geezers get sick and wind up in a hospital bereft of critical personnel because the support personnel resigned rather than take the poison jab? It could happen, you know. Karma works in strange ways: what goes around comes around.

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