At the same time, the judges left in effect a separate mandate concerning mandatory vaccination of employees of more than 76 thousand medical institutions.
The Supreme Court blocked on Thursday the mandate issued earlier by President Joe Biden for mandatory vaccination or testing of employees of large enterprises, allowing the administration to keep in effect a separate requirement for mandatory vaccination of all employees of medical institutions.
Last Friday, the judges heard arguments from the parties involved in a lawsuit filed in November against temporary mandates on vaccination and testing of employees of companies with a staff of 100 people or more issued last November by two federal agencies.
When making both decisions, opinions in the court were divided. The blocking of the mandate against employees of large companies was supported by six judges who are considered conservatives, and all three liberal judges voted “against.”
The requirement for mandatory vaccination of medical staff remained in force thanks to the support of five judges, which, in addition to the liberals, also included Chief Justice John Roberts and Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The four remaining conservatives spoke out against the action of this mandate as well.
In November, the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an order concerning enterprises with at least 100 employees and providing for either vaccination or weekly testing of these categories of people for COVID-19. The order affected more than 80 million employees of large American companies.
A group of plaintiffs led by the state of Ohio and the National Federation of Independent Business appealed to the Supreme Court to block OSHA’s order after a lower court overturned an injunction previously issued by a federal court in Missouri.
American companies were supposed to start providing the authorities with information on compliance with vaccination and testing requirements starting from Monday, January 10.
The remaining OSHA mandate requires vaccination of approximately 10.3 million employees of approximately 76 thousand medical institutions, including hospitals and nursing homes, receiving funds from the funds of the state health insurance programs Medicare and Medicaid, financing health services for older Americans, the disabled and low-income people.
The court decision states that the mandate issued by OSHA in respect of all companies with a staff of over 100 people was, in fact, “a serious encroachment on the life and health of a huge number of employees.”
“The authorization granted by OSHA to regulate the risks associated with everyday life – simply because most Americans have a job and face the same risks during working hours – significantly expanded OSHA’s regulatory powers without clear authorization from Congress,” the judges said.
In a sign of disagreement with the decision handed down by the Supreme Court today, Justice Stephen Breyer issued a statement on behalf of all liberal judges, saying that today’s verdict “undermines the ability of the federal government to confront the unprecedented threat that COVID-19 poses to workers living in our country.”
The Supreme Court blocked a December 17 ruling by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati that allowed the mandate to take effect.
White House press Secretary Jen Psaki commented on the judges’ decision, saying that the Biden administration will continue to urge owners of large businesses to meet the requirements for vaccination against COVID-19.
“We urge and will continue to urge businesses to join those who have already stepped up their actions” in setting vaccination requirements, Psaki said, speaking at a press conference at the White House.