Supreme Court Blocks Vaccine Mandate For US Businesses
The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for large employers but upheld the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers in facilities receiving certain public funds, Ilya Somin of George Mason University (GMU) said in an analysis for NBC News.
Photo Insert: A COVID-19 vaccination drive in the US
The Biden administration has adopted several policies mandating vaccination against the COVID-19 virus. The administration’s desire to increase the vaccination rate is laudable.
Vaccines are essential to limit the spread of the disease and especially to prevent severe disease, hospitalization, and death — including against the new omicron variant. But the government must respect legal limits on its power, Somin, a law professor at GMU, said late on Jan. 13, 2022.
The healthcare worker requirement is much narrower, well within the scope of existing law, and does not threaten to set a problematic precedent. On Thursday, the Supreme Court said exactly that in cases challenging two of these policies for not respecting those limits.
One case, brought by the National Federation of Independent Business and 27 state governments, questioned the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) policy requiring employers with 100 or more workers to compel nearly all of them to get vaccinated against COVID or wear masks on the job and take regular COVID tests. The healthcare case challenges the policy requiring health care workers employed by institutions receiving federal Medicare and Medicaid funds to get vaccinated.
The court upheld the policy imposing vaccination requirements on healthcare workers. But the regulation governing large employers is legally dubious and would set a dangerous precedent.
The broad large-employer mandate effectively gives presidential administrations a blank check to control nearly every aspect of every workplace in the country, going beyond the authority given to the executive branch by Congress. It also goes against long-standing legal doctrines that constrain presidential authority and limit power grabs.
By contrast, the healthcare worker requirement is much narrower, well within the scope of existing law, and does not threaten to set a problematic precedent. It also focuses on protecting a group — hospital patients and nursing home residents — who are especially vulnerable and often cannot effectively protect themselves against the virus.