U.S. Supreme Court discusses White House plan for mandatory vaccination of workers
Biden Administration intends to require medium and large companies to vaccinate and test employees to combat COVID-19
A conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court is skeptical of the White House’s intention to require medium and large U.S. companies to vaccinate or regularly test their employees for the coronavirus. Following a hearing Friday, Jan. 7, the justices are leaning more toward a plan to require vaccination of only health care workers.
The relevance of the Supreme Court hearing comes from recent reports of a spike in COVID-19 infections due to the spread of the Omicron strain. For the same reason, seven of the justices who appeared at today’s hearing were wearing masks, while two others chose to attend remotely. One was Judge Sonia Sotomayor: As a diabetic, she is a high-risk person, so she participated via video link from her office at the Supreme Court.
Also participating remotely were the plaintiffs, two lawyers representing Ohio and Louisiana state authorities who are challenging the Biden administration’s plan to impose a mandatory workplace vaccination mandate.
The White House insists that the measure falls under the “Occupational Safety and Health Act,” enacted in 1970.
However, after a day of hearings, six of the nine supreme court justices are inclined to conclude that the Biden administration is exceeding its authority by trying to impose a mandatory vaccination for companies with more than a hundred employees.
“Nothing like this has ever been done before by the federal government,” Chief Justice John Roberts said today. At the same time, Justice Elena Kagan, who usually takes a more liberal stance, noted the arguments cited by White House attorneys that no other policy will prevent cases of infection and coronavirus as effectively as vaccination.
If the Supreme Court does not block the White House administration’s directive, employees of large and medium-sized companies will be required to wear protective masks as early as Monday, Jan. 10, and starting in February companies will have to regularly test personnel or pay fines for violating the rules imposed.