WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s sweeping vaccine-or-test mandate for large private companies.
- Businesses with more than 100 employees will not have to comply with a federal requirement that workers get COVID-19 vaccinations or be tested weekly and wear masks.
- The court, however, allowed a vaccine mandate to stand for medical facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid payments.
The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration’s rule requiring larger businesses to ensure that workers are vaccinated against Covid-19 or wear masks and get tested weekly.
But the court said a separate mandate requiring vaccinations for an estimated 20 million health care workers can be enforced.
In November, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) required companies with 100 or more employees to ensure that their workers either get vaccinated or wear masks and show negative Covid test results at least once a week.
OSHA estimated that the rule, which would have covered nearly 80 million U.S. workers, would save over 6,500 lives and prevent 250,000 hospitalizations in the next six months.
The court’s conservative majority said the administration had gone too far in imposing such a sweeping requirement on the nation’s businesses.
“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 conservative justices 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.”
President Joe Biden celebrated the verdict in the health care worker case as one that would “save lives,” but expressed his disappointment that the broader workplace mandate was halted.
“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,” he said in a statement.
The president calls on individual businesses to institute their own vaccination requirements.
The workplace rule was immediately challenged by a group of businesses and red states. Lower courts initially blocked the requirement, but a later ruling allowed it to go into effect.
The National Federation of Independent Business said the appeals court ruling was “a gut punch to America’s small businesses who are struggling to stay in business as they come out of the pandemic.”
Karen Harned, the executive director of the group’s small business legal center, said the Supreme Court ruling was a “welcome relief” to businesses struggling to keep afloat during the pandemic.
“As small businesses try to recover after almost two years of significant business disruptions, the last thing they need is a mandate that would cause more business challenges,” Harned said.
The Supreme Court on Thursday said a separate regulation that requires vaccinations for health care workers who treat Medicare and Medicaid patients can be enforced. Two federal appeals courts had blocked enforcement in 24 states; the requirement went into effect in the remaining 26.
Source: NBC News