The United States Supreme Court on Jan. 13 blocked President Joe Biden’s mandate requiring large businesses to ensure that their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 or masked and tested weekly.
In a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) exceeded its authority in imposing the mandate.
“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,” the conservative majority wrote in an unsigned opinion.
“This is no ‘everyday exercise of federal power.’ It is instead a significant encroachment into the lives — and health — of a vast number of employees,” the majority also wrote.
OSHA announced the mandate last November, requiring companies with 100 or more employees to ensure that their employees get the vaccine or wear masks and get tested at least once a week.
However, the Court said in a separate ruling that a separate mandate requiring about 20 million healthcare workers at government-funded healthcare facilities can be enforced.
“Ensuring that providers take steps to avoid transmitting a dangerous virus to their patients is consistent with the fundamental principle of the medical profession: first, do no harm,” the Court ruled.
In a statement, Biden celebrated the ruling in the case of government-funded healthcare facilities, but he said he was “disappointed” that the Court blocked the broader workplace mandate.
“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,” Biden said.
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