Thu, Jan 13, 2022 1:50 PM
By Dan McCaleb and Casey Harper | The Center Square, The Center Square
(The Center Square) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration's vaccine mandate on private sector businesses, though it allowed a separate mandate to stand for certain health care workers.
The private sector ruling came on a 6-3 vote, with the court's three liberal justices all siding with the Biden administration's argument that the mandates are legal, and its majority conservative wing saying only Congress has the authority to give the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) the power to implement such a widespread federal mandate.
"The question before us is not how to respond to the pandemic, but who holds the power to do so. The answer is clear: Under the law as it stands today, that power rests with the States and Congress, not OSHA," justices wrote in the majority opinion.
OSHA implemented the private sector mandate, which was set to affect 84 million workers across the country. If the Supreme Court upheld the mandate, businesses with 100 or more employees would have been required to check the vaccine status of all of their workers. Those who were not fully vaccinated would have faced weekly COVID-19 tests. Companies who violated the mandate faced stiff fines.
In December, the U.S. Senate voted to rescind Biden's vaccine mandate, with two Democrats joining all Republicans in the vote. The U.S. House has not taken a vote on the matter.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who led 27 states in their lawsuit against the Biden administration, celebrated the ruling.
“Americans have lost too much to this disease already – all of us want this pandemic to end – but it is critical that we do not lose our Constitution, too,” Yost said. “Today’s ruling protects our individual rights and states’ rights to pursue the solutions that work best for their citizens.”
The court heard oral arguments Friday from administration attorneys and attorneys representing states and individuals challenging the constitutional authority of the president to issue such mandates.
“Today’s ruling represents a monumental victory for all Americans, and a reminder that the Biden Administration and the federal government cannot rule by executive fiat,” said Patrick Hughes, president and co-founder of the Liberty Justice Center. “The Supreme Court saw this mandate for what it really is: An attempt to bypass Congress and the will of the American people."
Liberty Justice Center and the New Orleans-based Pelican Institute for Public Policy filed suit against the Biden administration on behalf of Louisiana grocery store owner Brandon Trosclair, who employs nearly 500 people across 16 grocery stores in Louisiana and Mississippi.
"The Supreme Court's decision to halt the illegal vaccine mandate is a win for American workers and business owners in every corner of the country," Sarah Harbison, general counsel at the Pelican Institute, said. "Business owners like Brandon Trosclair fought and beat the Biden Administration on behalf of their team members and communities to keep the government out of individuals' private health care decisions."
In a separate ruling, the Supreme Court upheld a Biden vaccine mandate for most health-care workers at providers that receive Medicaid and Medicare dollars.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the liberal wing in upholding the health-care mandate in a 5-4 decision.
This story is developing and will be updated.