Supreme Court Overrules Biden's Covid Vaccine Mandate for Large Private Businesses

On January 13, 2022, the Supreme Court overruled the Biden administration’s vaccine and test mandate. The mandate would have required private companies of 100 or more employees to enforce workers to submit weekly negative Covid testing or receive vaccinations in order to go to work. This mandate also would have required unvaccinated employees to wear masks while at work. 


The results of the Supreme Court rulings were made three days after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s plan for businesses took effect. The vote in the worker case was 6 to 3, with liberal justices in protest. 


Biden found the court’s ruling disappointing, since his decision to require a mandate was “grounded squarely in both science and the law.” He believes the Supreme Court chose to overrule a mandate that would save the lives of workers. He is now calling on every state and company to voluntarily institute vaccination requirements to protect employees, customers, and the community against Covid. He said:

“The Court has ruled that my administration cannot use the authority granted to it by Congress to require this measure, but that does not stop me from using my voice as President to advocate for employers to do the right thing to protect Americans’ health and economy.”


Although the Supreme Court did not rule in Biden’s favor for the business mandate, they did, however, rule in his favor for the mandate for healthcare workers. The mandate enforces medical facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid payments to require workers to be vaccinated. The vote in the healthcare mandate case was 5 to 4, this time with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh siding with the liberal justices to form a majority.


In both employer and health care cases, the justices investigated whether Congress had authorized the executive branch to take such aggressive steps to address the health care crisis. On the grounds of the employer case, a majority ruled that the laws on workplace hazards did not justify requiring 84 million workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly, thus overruling the mandate. They also concluded that the novelty and sweep of the mandate that was released by the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration were not authorized by Congress. Their act was described as “a blunt instrument.” The mandate also made no distinction between industries and those at risk of exposure to Covid. 


A majority of opinions concluded that the mandate is “a significant encroachment into the lives—and health—of a vast number of employees,” but under a more detailed regulation, the mandate may be more lawful.

While all parties work to do what is lawful and best for all citizens, the number of Omicron variant cases continues to increase as 786,000 infection cases are reported daily on average (as of January 13th). This is now a pandemic record and a 37% increase from the prior week. While we do not know what is to come, do your part to be safe, protecting yourself and those around you. 

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