The Supreme Court of the United States. (Credit: Geoff Livingston)
The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration’s vaccination and testing rule for big business, but upheld a separate federal COVID-19 vaccination mandate for healthcare workers.
The High Court ruled 6 to 3 against the employer’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration warrant, preventing it from taking effect while the case is heard by the Court of Appeal of the 6th circuit. The court ruled 5-4 to retain the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ immunization mandate for healthcare workers, which affects 10.4 million workers in 76,000 providers, including nursing homes, but not senior living communities.
In the majority opinion regarding OSHA’s mandate, the court said that while “Congress has unquestionably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational hazards, it has not given this agency the power to regulate the public health of broader way”. The advisory said the requirement to vaccinate 84 million American workers “simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees” falls into the latter category.
Thursday’s rulings came as no surprise to court watchers given the judges’ questions and comments when the High Court heard oral arguments on January 7 regarding OSHA’s mandate as well as the workers’ mandate. CMS health.
Without an immediate decision, OSHA had begun implementing its rule on Monday, although it noted it would not cite employers for failing to meet the standard’s testing requirements until Feb. 9.
Business groups led by the National Federation of Independent Businesses and a 27-state group led by Ohio had argued that OSHA’s “economy-wide, one-size-fits-all” order was a federal overbreadth. Lawyers argued that the rule would upend the economy, cost billions of dollars, lead to mass employee quits and violate state sovereignty in making vaccination policies.
The COVID-19 vaccination and testing standard requires large employers to ensure that their employees are vaccinated or undergo regular testing and wear masks in the workplace. The rule would affect 1.8 million workplaces, or around two-thirds of the country’s private workforce, according to the government.
The OSHA rule, announced on November 4, was temporarily halted later that month by the 5th United States Circuit Court of Appeals. In December, the case was returned to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which lifted the stay on the rule. The Supreme Court announced Dec. 22 that it would hear cases related to the OSHA and CMS warrants.