The Supreme Court has stopped the Biden administration’s mandate requiring employees of large companies to get vaccinated or take a test regularly and wear a mask while at work.
In the meantime, the court is allowing the administration to continue with a mandated vaccination program for most health professionals within the U.S. The court’s rulings on Thursday came amid a surge in coronavirus cases triggered by the omicron-related variant.
The court’s conservative majority ruled that the administration overreached in its attempt to impose the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) vaccine-or-test policy for U.S. businesses with 100 employees or more.
About 80 million individuals would have been affected.
OSHA had predicted that the rule could save the lives of 6,500 people and stop 250,000 hospitalizations in the next six months.
“OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate. Nor has Congress. Indeed, although Congress has enacted significant legislation addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, it has declined to enact any measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here,” the conservatives wrote in an unsigned opinion.
In their dissent, the court’s three liberals asserted that the court was overreaching by imposing its opinion against the advice of health experts.
“Acting outside of its competence and without legal basis, the Court displaces the judgments of the Government officials given the responsibility to respond to workplace health emergencies,” Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a joint dissent.
President Joe Biden expressed his dismay, saying he was “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 urged businesses to adopt their requirements for vaccination, noting that most Fortune 100 companies have already done so.