Please note: The Supreme Court has ruled this as a stay for how this was written. If OSHA or the Biden Administration were to re-write this mandate in a more acceptable form, then it could go into effect in the future.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued two highly anticipated rulings on Thursday, temporarily blocking a Biden administration COVID-19 vaccine mandate for large employers but allowing a separate rule applying only to health care workers at facilities receiving federal funding.
The high court settled the matter concerning large employers in a 6-3 decision to block the rule that would have been issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, with the three liberal justices dissenting.
“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 majority opinion stated.
As for health care facilities, the court ruled 5-4 to uphold for now the rule administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, with Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch dissenting.
“Both Medicare and Medicaid are administered by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, who has general statutory authority to promulgate regulations ‘as may be necessary to the efficient administration of the functions with which [he] is charged.’ One such function — perhaps the most basic, given the Department’s core mission — is to ensure that the health care providers who care for Medicare and Medicaid patients protect their patients’ health and safety,” the majority stated.
The rulings take effect immediately and will remain in place until legal challenges over their constitutionality are resolved through the justice system, and possibly through the Supreme Court.
A mandate targeting half the U.S. workforce
The administration’s employer mandate, announced by senior officials in early November, with an original effective date of Jan. 4, targets about 84 million U.S. workers, or roughly half of the U.S. workforce. Its deadline for employers to require masking was extended to Jan. 10. Full compliance, which the court’s decision now renders renders unenforceable, had been extended to Feb. 9.
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