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Supreme Court blocks nationwide vaccine and testing mandate for large businesses, allows health care worker vaccine mandate to take effect


CNN

By Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter

The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked President Joe Biden’s vaccine and testing requirement aimed at large businesses, but it allowed a vaccine mandate for certain health care workers to go into effect nationwide.

The decision is a huge hit to Biden’s attempts to use the power of the federal government to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

The President has emphasized the necessity of getting vaccinated against the virus for months and eventually decided to use the mandate on large employers as his main vehicle for convincing hesitant Americans to get their shots.

In freezing a lower court opinion that allowed the regulation to go into effect nationwide, the majority sent a clear message the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, charged with protecting workplace safety, overstepped its authority. In contrast, the justices said that a separate agency could issue a rule to protect the health and safety of Medicare and Medicaid patients.

“Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly. Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category,” the unsigned opinion in the businesses case says.

Biden issued a statement praising the ruling on health care workers but criticized the ruling on businesses that will have the much wider effect.

“I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen to block common-sense life-saving requirements for employees at large businesses that were grounded squarely in both science and the law,” Biden said.

Moving forward, Biden said “it is now up to States and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees, and whether their businesses will be safe for consumers during this pandemic by requiring employees to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated.”

Liberal Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan issued a blistering dissent.

“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,” they wrote. “Today, we are not wise. In the face of a still-raging pandemic, this Court tells the agency charged with protecting worker safety that it may not do so in all the workplaces needed. As disease and death continue to mount, this Court tells the agency that it cannot respond in the most effective way possible.”

The rule would impact some 80 million individuals and requires employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that their employees are fully vaccinated or undergo regular testing and wear a face covering at work. There are exceptions for those with religious objections.

The agency said that it had the authority to act under an emergency temporary standard meant to protect employees if they are exposed to a “grave danger.”

The Biden administration defended the regulation and argued that the nation is facing a pandemic “that is sickening and killing thousands of workers around the country” and that any delay in implementing the requirement to get a vaccine or submit to regular testing “will result in unnecessary illness, hospitalizations and death.”

During oral arguments, the Biden administration had asked that at the very least, if the court says employers can’t require the employees to get the vaccine, it should leave in place an alternate requirement for masking and frequent testing. The majority rejected that request Thursday.

Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said the ruling on the business mandate could have wide-reaching effects in future cases about the power of government.

“These cases were not referenda on vaccine mandates — which can still come from states, local governments, and private businesses — they were referenda on whether these kinds of expert policy decisions are better made by agency experts accountable to the President or by judges accountable to no one,” Vladeck said. “And if the answer is the latter, that’s going to be true long after, and in contexts far beyond, the immediate response to the Covid pandemic.”

Mandate for health care workers

Although the justices have been receptive to past attempts by states to mandate vaccines, the new disputes centered on federal requirements that raised different legal questions. The cases come to the Supreme Court in an unusual posture, because the justices are only being asked to block the requirements while the legal challenges play out.

The court allowed to take effect the vaccine policy rolled out in November by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which sought to require the Covid-19 vaccine for certain health care workers at hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs.

According to government estimates, the mandate regulates more than 10.3 million health care workers in the United States. Covered staff were originally required to get the first dose by December 6 and the mandate allows for some religious and medical exemptions.

Two lower courts had blocked the mandate in 24 states.

Justice Samuel Alito, joined by conservatives Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett, dissented.

“Neither CMS nor the Court articulates a limiting principle for why, after an un-explained and unjustified delay, an agency can regulate first and listen later, and then put more than 10 million healthcare workers to the choice of their jobs or an irreversible medical treatment,” Alito wrote.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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CNN’s Kyle Feldscher contributed to this report.

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Comments

64 Comments

        1. Precisely- what was said and allowed to be posted here by the Mod back then (for four years) was disgusting- so much so- I guarantee- he won’t let it be said about this geriatric nincompoop in DC today.

      1. Actually I’d give the award to the three liberal judges who said… “Today, we are not wise. In the face of a still-raging pandemic”… to quote a great man… “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” … Safe to say- these three fit the bill !

  1. “When we are wise” we know that their are about 3500 kids in hospitals with covid not 100,000 and some on ventilators. (Sounds like Sotomayor wrote the dissenting opinion. She has referred to herself as the Wise Latina.)

    1. her law professors and many folks she worked with petitioned obama to NOT appoint her. she’s just not smart – bad grades, low LSAT’s, took the bar multiple times, etc.
      he chose her for her gender and race alone – and see what we get?
      just like harris – selected for gender and race and she’s dumb as a box of rocks, that one!

  2. His supporters and there’s few on this message board will be disappointed hearing this. Last year the healthcare professionals were considered heros, this year dispensable.😵🌪️

    1. tons of them fired from St Charles and various practices but they, as you state, were yesterday’s heros.
      i need a surgery – have since september (cancer related) – and i just can’t get in!!
      likely going to get much worse.

  3. Should at least require businesses to mark themselves as having vaccinated requirements or not having them at the door. I’d prefer to know which ones were looking out for my health and are safer to shop at and which ones to avoid.

    1. Why if your vaxxed what does it matter if someone else isn’t? Does someone else being vaxxed make the vaxx you took better? If you are scared and it sounds like you are take every precaution you can. BTW it’s nobody else’s job to protect YOUR health it’s your job and only yours.

        1. Blue Danube, No it does not. If the vaccine worked, those vaccinated would not be at risk of getting Covid, period. Kinda like Measles. Most measles cases coroorm those travelers. Kind how Whooping Cough (also known as Pertusis) keeps going around every winter…despite such a high immunity rate. My family is fully vaccinated against Pertusis. I am the only one of 4 who has not had it. Both my children and ex husband have had it multiple times. Don’t tell me the “unvaxxed” carry it, because that is a load of bunk. Vaccines are waning in their immunity. Don’t believe me ask your doctor for titer tests for Measles, Mumps, Pertusis. Chances are really good, you are not immune. Vaccines are a hail mary, and some work great. Others we are learning not as long as hoped. But vaccine manufacturers, investors, and politicians don’t want you to know that, because then why would you boost your kids? And what Adults will line up willingly to get boosters at ages 20, 30, 40, 50…oh yeah, you guys already are, only at 6 and 4 month intervals.
          Enjoy the empty promises of the Covid vaccine. Everyone I know that has been vaccinated is sick for the 3rd and 4th time right now. Odd, I have had a great cooler weather season, no illness.

        2. How so Poindexter??? If you’re fully vaccinated and can still catch and spread COVID, how does the un-vaccinated change your life in regards to spreading the virus??? If you took the vaccine, it only protects YOU from symptoms. It does not prevent the spread as we were told.

    2. Vaccinated can still transfer and contract Covid, the vaccination has show to ease the symptoms I will say there is proof of that. but I don’t understand your logic. the vaccine you have is what makes the symptoms less, it is not like vaccinated people pass on a less powerful strain to you than the unvaxed it is the fact that you are vaccinated that makes symptoms less and not about others protecting you. people need to make that choice to protect themselves or not and stop trying to get others to protect you. if I pass coved to you weather I am vaxed or not your symptoms and chances of serious illness are based on your body and any precautions you have taken to protect your body. I don’t know what is so hard to understand and make the choice for you and stop saying others are not protecting your. get the shot or don’t based on what YOU are comfortable with…. Also unless the shop is not allowing unvaxed people in then it doesn’t much matter if the employees are vaccinated you have the same risk when customers come into play so not sure what good a sign would do. yes you could avoid going to a grocery store where employees are not vaccinated but when you go to one where employees are that doesn’t mean the guy shopping right next to you is vaccinated. live life, protect yourself if you feel the need and lets appreciate each others personal view and stop projecting on others, if you want to get vaxed, if you don’t then don’t!

      1. I can’t argue with this.
        Protect yourself and your family if you want to.
        Let those other people throw themselves and their families under the bus.
        Everyone’s happy!

          1. The article linked is now officially outdated garbage… “Employers have a duty of care under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) to provide a safe workplace for employees. To fulfill the duty of care, an employer can ask for proof of vaccination against COVID-19″…. This was decided by the SCOTUS today- OSHA no longer has any authority to enforce Biden’s illegal mandates to force risky injections on the US public.

      1. i’m fully vaxxed and just had a positive COVID test last week – was feeling awful but not as bad as the first time i got it before the vaccines were available for all. we can still get it, the vax just keeps the symptoms lighter, i think.

        1. What makes you think that the jab was more effective than the levels of natural immunity that kicked in once you were exposed ? I’m willing to bet an apple a day would provide the same level of natural immunity- without the potential for a fatal adverse reaction or yet to be seen long term bout with cancer or heart failure.

      2. iknow, I’ve been fully vaccinated, and because of the anti/vaxxers/masks, the non-believers is my reason for concern. I know I don’t have much longer on this earth, but I would prefer others not rush it for me. If it weren’t a deadly disease I wouldn’t mind people’s rebellion, but it is, and even some of the rebels who have passed have stated they wished they would have followed protocols. Too little too late.

        1. Why? YOUR vaxxed you should be fine according to the science on the news. Also me and my family all have had COVID and are perfectly fine but you want us to take a shot that COULD have potentially serious side affects just to protect you. Come on either the vaxx works or it don’t. You need to protect YOURSELF not me and my family. I’m so glad my 70+ old parents don’t think like you.

  4. Hallelujah! At least one branch of government is still abiding by the laws and rules of this country. Isn’t it ironic how the progressives are now calling to pack the Supreme Court since they didn’t get their way. What a lack of respect for our country and our governmental checks and balances.

    1. The fun part of having a day off is watching in real-time as Boomers tap out their conspiracies and propaganda on KTVZ. The party of domestic terrorists who waged a real live insurrection to overturn a free and fair election for the defeated former president complaining about “a lack of respect for our country and our government” is simultaneously hysterical and sad.

      1. So you took the day off from your pc? Wow, how did you survive? Maybe it’s time to out in the real world and get out of your parents basement. BTW, I think that you’re hysteria is making you sad.

      2. What does your comment have to do with the Supreme Court knocking the stuffing out of little lyin Joey’s run at a dictatorship ??? All free Americans should be celebrating this decision- a solid blow against Biden’s communist agenda- his disdain for the US Constitution… if you need to mention Trump- then do so in a glowing manner- it was his wisdom and foresight that brought the American SCOTUS back to its senses ! A great day to wave the flag !

          1. A stolen court ? Gee- when did that happen ??? It didn’t ! Just like Little Lyin’ Joey’s attempt to force a potentially fatal injection on the US public through an illegal mandate- cooler heads have prevailed- yours is free to continue to implode- poor baby !

  5. Excellent news. No one should be forced to undergo a medical procedure in order to provide for themself. How was this even a question? What an awful abuse of power.

  6. Mandating someone else to submit to a medical procedure with risks, albeit tiny, that doesn’t protect others is unethical. The benefit to others has to outweigh the collective risk to the individuals who would otherwise refuse the procedure. Since omicron is so infectious and clearly can not be stopped by vaccination, there is no direct benefit against the negative effects of the virus to others. The only justification is that the vaccination clearly stops transmission.

  7. So, do I have this correct, the death count manipulated by including people who tested positive and died of other causes and by using a PCR test the inventor said should not be used for covid and brought it up to 40 cycles to identify old mRNA from prior cold/flu cases to create the false positives inflating the “case” rates. Then, they suppressed and censored all early treatments proven to work and allowed a nation to get sick and some hospitalized, so they could push a vaccine that is not working and does not stop transmission? And, to make matters worse, SCOTUS decides healthcare workers of CMS should be mandated to take the jab. It appears there is no bottom to the pit of insanity.

  8. I am not responsible for other people’s health, and no one is responsible for mine. I got shot and boosted so I don’t get as sick. I really should look at my diet and make healthier adjustments to it. I get plenty of exercise with around 20,000 to 26,000 steps per day. Everyone knows masks are a very thin band-aid and more like virtue signaling for the governor to appear like she’s doing something. I wear one at work but no where else. I mean what’s the point? So, everyone just has to look out for themselves and take that responsibility, because I know that your health is none of my business, like every single flu and cold season every year.

  9. fantastic that the autocrat’s mandate is shot down.
    guess most dems didn’t know joe wasn’t interested in being president of a constitutional republic, but rather dictator.
    hopefully he’ll just keep losing.

  10. Using the Supreme Courts own words: Healthcare workers work under pledge to do no harm, so they should be vaccinated. Okay…then why are hospitals in Oregon allowing Covid Positive vaccinated workers to come back to work as soon as their fever is over, because they are short staffed. Does that sound like the hospital is pledging to do no harm?

    Even the Supreme Court didn’t use the Constitution to make this decision. In fact they used the standards of the National OSHA and DHHS. They stated OSHA is for workers safety, not PUBLIC HEALTH safety. DHHS on the other hand in medical is for Public Safety… Where does the Constitution of Bill of Rights talk about Public Safety?

  11. Most of my family has been fully vaxxed and some have been double boosted at this point.
    Most of them had positive covid over Xmas and some have had covid twice now since October.
    I had covid early 2020, terribly sick almost died. Got over it and now have not been sick(of any kind) since, not even allergies anymore.

  12. Not much left to say down here at the bottom of the thread- many (including myself) told all the liberal ninnies celebrating Biden’s non-stop attack on the US Constitution- would one day have to face the reality of a Supreme Court decision- and that day has come- just as predicted… Ya’ll have voters remorse yet- I hope not… I think we all need another 7 more years of Demokant rule- to truly understand how Venezuelans feel- what poverty is really all about- the chance to live under the heavy thumb of a dictator… this is a great life lesson- why quit now !

  13. It’ll be a cold day in Hell before I get vaccinated and I’m sure as hell not wearing a mask when I go shopping. Had some little punk last week in Fred Meyer tell me to wear a mask, and I said, “Make me”, and I walked away. End of discussion. And I’m not the only one. I see quite a few folks in Freddy’s without masks these days.

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