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Supreme Court blocks vaccine rule for companies, allows health care worker mandate

Supreme Court
Posted at 1:00 PM, Jan 13, 2022

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration's vaccine-or-test rule for businesses with at least 100 workers for now, but granted a separate request from the Biden administration to allow its vaccine mandate for health care workers to take effect.

In an unsigned opinion on the vaccine-or-test rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the high court said a slew of GOP-led states, businesses and nonprofit organizations that challenged the rule are "likely to prevail" in their challenge to the requirement.

"Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly," the court said. "Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category."

The three members of the court's liberal wing, Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.

The high court, though, gave the green-light to the requirement that health care workers in facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding must be vaccinated, siding 5-4 with the Biden administration pending further proceedings.

"The challenges posed by a global pandemic do not allow a federal agency to exercise power that Congress has not conferred upon it," the Supreme Court said in its second unsigned opinion. "At the same time, such unprecedented circumstances provide no grounds for limiting the exercise of authorities the agency has long been recognized to have."

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett dissented.

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