U.S. Supreme Court blocks Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination, testing rules for large businesses

January 13, 2022
U.S. Supreme Court blocks Biden's COVID-19 vaccination, testing rules for large businesses
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The U.S. Supreme Court has stopped the Biden administration from enforcing a requirement that employees at large businesses be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing and wear a mask on the job.

At the same time, the court is allowing the administration to proceed with a vaccine mandate for most health-care workers in the United States.

The court’s orders on Thursday during a spike in coronavirus cases was a mixed bag for the administration’s efforts to boost the vaccination rate among Americans.

The court’s conservative majority concluded that the administration overstepped its authority by seeking to impose the vaccine-or-test rule on U.S. businesses with at least 100 employees. More than 80 million people would have been affected.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration “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 conservative justices wrote in an unsigned opinion.

A health worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine shot in Oakland, Pa., on Wednesday. (Andrew Rush/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/The Associated Press)

In dissent, the court’s three liberals argued that it was the court that was overreaching by substituting its judgments for 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.

The vaccine mandate that the court will allow to be enforced nationwide covers virtually all health-care workers in the country.

More than 208 million Americans, 62.7 per cent of the population, are fully vaccinated, and more than a third of those have received booster shots, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All nine justices have gotten booster shots.



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