U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Biden’s Private Sector Mandate, Upholds Health Worker Mandate

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The Center Square [By Dan McCaleb and Casey Harper] –

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate on private sector businesses, though it allowed a separate mandate to stand for certain health care workers.

The private sector ruling came on a 6-3 vote, with the court’s three liberal justices all siding with the Biden administration’s argument that the mandates are legal, and its majority conservative wing saying only Congress has the authority to give the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) the power to implement such a widespread federal mandate.

“The question before us is not how to respond to the pandemic, but who holds the power to do so. The answer is clear: Under the law as it stands today, that power rests with the States and Congress, not OSHA,” justices wrote in the majority opinion.

OSHA implemented the private sector mandate, which was set to affect 84 million workers across the country. If the Supreme Court upheld the mandate, businesses with 100 or more employees would have been required to check the vaccine status of all of their workers. Those who were not fully vaccinated would have faced weekly COVID-19 tests. Companies who violated the mandate faced stiff fines.

In December, the U.S. Senate voted to rescind Biden’s vaccine mandate, with two Democrats joining all Republicans in the vote. The U.S. House has not taken a vote on the matter.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who led 27 states in their lawsuit against the Biden administration, celebrated the ruling.

“Americans have lost too much to this disease already – all of us want this pandemic to end – but it is critical that we do not lose our Constitution, too,” Yost said. “Today’s ruling protects our individual rights and states’ rights to pursue the solutions that work best for their citizens.”

The court heard oral arguments Friday from administration attorneys and attorneys representing states and individuals challenging the constitutional authority of the president to issue such mandates.

“Today’s ruling represents a monumental victory for all Americans, and a reminder that the Biden Administration and the federal government cannot rule by executive fiat,” said Patrick Hughes, president and co-founder of the Liberty Justice Center. “The Supreme Court saw this mandate for what it really is: An attempt to bypass Congress and the will of the American people.”

Liberty Justice Center and the New Orleans-based Pelican Institute for Public Policy filed suit against the Biden administration on behalf of Louisiana grocery store owner Brandon Trosclair, who employs nearly 500 people across 16 grocery stores in Louisiana and Mississippi.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to halt the illegal vaccine mandate is a win for American workers and business owners in every corner of the country,” Sarah Harbison, general counsel at the Pelican Institute, said. “Business owners like Brandon Trosclair fought and beat the Biden Administration on behalf of their team members and communities to keep the government out of individuals’ private health care decisions.”

In a separate ruling, the Supreme Court upheld a Biden vaccine mandate for most health-care workers at providers that receive Medicaid and Medicare dollars.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the liberal wing in upholding the health-care mandate in a 5-4 decision.

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The private sector ruling was welcome news for businesses, who felt the administrative burden of enforcing the mandate as well as the expected loss of unvaccinated workers in the middle of a year-long labor shortage.

“The small business economy remains fragile as owners work through supply chain disruptions, high inflation, and staffing shortages,” said Karen Harned, Small Business Legal Center Executive Director at the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Those economic concerns were heightened just hours before the Supreme Court issued its ruling when the Department of Labor released more inflation data showing producer prices rose at the highest rate on record. Consumer prices have risen at the highest levels in decades, according to federal data.

NFIB, a leading challenger in this case, welcomed the court’s decision, emphasizing that businesses needed the relief and saying they are “optimistic” about the court’s final ruling.

“Today’s decision is welcome relief for America’s small businesses, who are still trying to get their business back on track since the beginning of the pandemic,” Harned said after the ruling. “As small businesses try to recover after almost two years of significant business disruptions, the last thing they need is a mandate that would cause more business challenges. We are pleased the Supreme Court stopped the rule from taking effect while the courts consider whether or not it is legal. We are optimistic that the courts will ultimately agree with us that OSHA does not have the emergency authority to regulate the entire American workforce.”

Recent polling showed that the majority of Americans did not favor Biden’s private sector mandate.

“We have done more polling on the vaccine mandates than any other organization [Convention of States/Trafalgar Group] and it’s unmistakably clear that a majority of voters are against Biden’s mandate, they never wanted people to lose their jobs over this – which has tragically already happened – and they support various measures to block it,” Convention of States President Mark Meckler said in a statement. “From Governors stepping up to the current bill in Congress to block the mandate, no matter what we polled, voters want this unconstitutional mandate stopped. After seeing horrifying moments from ignorant Justices during oral arguments last week, it’s encouraging to see SCOTUS came down on the right the side of Constitutional freedoms.” 

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The court’s ruling went on to point out that such a broad, sweeping mandate was unprecedented.

“OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate,” the ruling reads. “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.”

President Joe Biden, whose administration argued the mandate was necessary to protect workers, said he was disappointed with the decision.

“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. “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.”

But the ruling gave reason for optimism to groups challenging federal vaccine requirements in other cases.

First Liberty Institute represented several religious organizations challenging the OSHA rule, but they also represent a group of U.S. Navy SEALs who allege their religious exemption requests were unfairly denied.

“We’re pleased that the Supreme Court is preventing this unconstitutional mandate from going into effect, but we hope the court will strike it down to avoid a Constitutional crisis,” said Kelly Shackelford, president, CEO, and chief counsel for First Liberty Institute. “President Biden is not a king. He cannot federalize the nation’s workforce and force employers to violate the conscience rights of their employees. We will continue to fight on behalf of our clients and the American people to protect them from this illegal, dangerous expansion of government power.”

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About the Author: Dan McCaleb is a veteran editor and has worked in journalism for more than 25 years. Most recently, McCaleb served as editorial director of Shaw Media and the top editor of the award-winning Northwest Herald in suburban Chicago. McCaleb  is the executive editor of The Center Square. He welcomes your comments. Contact Dan at dmccaleb@thecentersquare.com.

About the Author: Casey Harper, The Center Square D.C. Bureau Reporter – charper@centersquare.com ~ Harper is a Senior Reporter for the Washington, D.C. Bureau. He previously worked for The Daily Caller, The Hill, and Sinclair Broadcast Group. A graduate of Hillsdale College, Casey’s work has also appeared in Fox News, Fox Business, and USA Today.

One thought on “U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Biden’s Private Sector Mandate, Upholds Health Worker Mandate

  • January 14, 2022 at 5:16 pm
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    That ruling does not make any since at all. These Health Care workers were Hero’s during the pandemic. Now they are second class citizens discarded like trash for not wanting to be injected with a unknown vaccine. I hope these workers find better jobs and get out of healthcare and watch the industry sink for not standing behind them.

    Reply

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