US Supreme Court blocks Biden vaccination or testing mandate for large businesses

·2-min read
The US Supreme Court (Getty Images)
The US Supreme Court (Getty Images)

The US Supreme Court has blocked President Joe Biden’s mandate for large businesses to enforce Covid vaccinations or testing for employees.

In a ruling Thursday, the Supreme Court decided 6-3 to block the vaccination-or-testing mandate for companies with over 100 employees, saying it was “not an ordinary use of federal power”.

"It is instead a significant encroachment on the lives - and health - of a vast number of employees," the court said.

However, the court decided 5-4 that a separate vaccine mandate for healthcare workers in government funded facilities could go ahead.

Biden voiced disappointment with the conservative-majority court’s decision to halt the business vaccine mandate, saying it is now up to states and employers to decide whether to require workers "to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated."

But he added that the healthcare vaccine mandate would “save lives” and that his administration would enforce it.

Healthcare workers must be vaccinated by the end of February under the mandate.

Ruling on the business vaccine mandate, the court’s conservative majority said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had overstepped its authority by imposing the rule, which affected around 80 million Americans.

In an unsigned opinion, it said: “OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate. 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," the conservatives wrote in an unsigned opinion.

But in dissent, the court’s three liberal justices said the court was substituting its judgement over that of health experts.

“Acting outside of its competence and without legal basis, the Court displaces the judgments of the Government officials given the responsibility to respond to workplace health emergencies," they said.

Around 62.7% of the population are fully vaccinated, and more than a third of those have received booster shots, according to the latest government data.

All nine justices on the Supreme Court have received booster doses.

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