The Supreme Court yesterday shut down the mandate from the federal government that employers with more than 100 employees must institute a mandate for workers to either get vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested every week saying the government overstepped its authority in having the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issue the guidance.
The Court did uphold a vaccinate-or-test requirement for employees who work at healthcare facilities funded by the federal government.
A number of states had sued the federal government for instituting the vaccine mandate, and the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case last week. They argued that OSHA bypassed the regulatory process by implementing emergency temporary requirements for companies to require their employees be vaccinated or tested weekly.
The large employer mandate would have affected about 80 million employees, which represents about two-thirds of the entire country’s workforce. The healthcare facility mandate affects about 17 million workers.
“The Secretary has ordered 84 million Americans to either obtain a COVID–19 vaccine or undergo weekly medical testing at their own expense,” the Court wrote in its majority opinion. “It is instead a significant encroachment into the Lives — and health — of a vast number of employees. … There can be little doubt that OSHA’s mandate qualifies as an exercise of such authority.”
COVID-19 can be spread anywhere, not just at companies with more than 100 employees, the Supreme Court noted.
In a dissenting opinion, the Court’s three liberal justices did not pull their punches. “When we are wise, we know enough to defer on matters like this one,” wrote Justices Stephen Beyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. “When we are wise, we know not to displace the judgments of experts, acting within the sphere Congress marked out and under Presidential control, to deal with emergency conditions. Today, we are not wise.”