The US Supreme Court has ruled that the Biden administration overstepped its authority in trying to strengthen the rules for big employers.
The US Supreme Court has blocked Joe Biden’s efforts to require employees at large companies to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing, a measure the US president has called “common sense”.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of allowing the federal government to move forward with a vaccine mandate for most health care workers in the country.
The court, which has a conservative majority, said the Biden administration exceeded its authority by seeking to enforce an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule requiring workers in US companies with at least 100 employees to either vaccinate or be tested weekly.
More than 80 million people could have been affected.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has never imposed such an authorization before. Neither does Congress. In fact, although Congress has enacted important legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic, it has rejected enactment of any measure similar to what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued here,” the court wrote in an unsigned opinion.
“It is instead a huge infringement on the lives – and health – of a large number of employees.”
The Supreme Court’s decision comes as coronavirus infections linked to the highly contagious variant Omicron are increasing across the United States, where COVID-19 has already killed more than 845,000 people – the highest death toll in the world.
The cases also underscore how divided the issue of mandatory vaccinations has become in the country, with many Republicans criticizing mandates imposed by governments and companies.
The White House said the two mandates would save lives and boost the US economy by increasing the number of Americans vaccinated by the millions, while rivals argued that federal agencies exceeded their authority to issue the mandates without specific authorization from Congress.
In a statement Thursday, Biden said the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the health care vaccine mandate “It will save lives: the lives of patients who seek care in medical facilities, as well as the lives of doctors, nurses and other people working there.”
The mandate requires vaccination of an estimated 10.3 million workers in about 76,000 health care facilities, including hospitals and nursing homes that serve elderly, disabled, and low-income Americans.
But Biden said thatFrustrated that the Supreme Court chose to block common sense requirements to save the lives of employees in large corporations that were based squarely on both science and law.”
“This emergency standard has allowed employers to order vaccinations or allow workers to refuse vaccination, as long as they are tested once a week and wear masks at work: a very modest burden,” his statement read.
The Supreme Court ruled 6-3, with six conservative justices in the majority and three liberal justices dissenting, to block the broader workplace mandate.
The vote was 5-4 to allow healthcare workers to rule, with two conservatives, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, joining the Liberals in the majority.
More than 208 million Americans, 62.7 percent of the population, have been fully vaccinated, and more than a third of them have received booster shots, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).