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Supreme Court Appears to Block Federal COVID Mandates

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering rejecting one of the federal government’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 spread – a vaccine or regular testing requirement at large private businesses

US Supreme Court Appears to Block Federal COVID-19 Mandates

On Friday, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court is preparing to reject one of the most aggressive efforts of the United States President Joe Biden to fight the Coronavirus spread – a vaccine or testing requirement regularly for larger businesses and certain health care workers. Moreover, the court heard arguments for around four hours as new cases grew.

The court heard arguments for around four hours as the number of new cases rises, and forty million American adults in the country are still denying getting vaccinated. Furthermore, the three liberal U.S. justices on the court expressed their approval for the government’s rules in both areas. For the first time in the court’s history, seven judges appeared in the majestic chamber wearing face masks, though Justice Neil Gorsuch chose not to.

Before arguments started, the court announced that Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the patient with diabetes, would hear the court proceedings remotely from her chambers. Two of the lawyers representing U.S. states challenging the Biden vaccine rules were absent from the court due to Coronavirus protocols. Benjamin Flowers, the Solicitor General of the Ohio state, contracted with the virus after Christmas – however, he received full vaccination doses – now recovered completely, the state’s office said. But the PCR test mandatory to enter the courtroom detected COVID-19 in him.

Skeptical of the Biden Government Rules

Two sets of vaccines mandates announced in November were the subject of Friday’s hearing. The first rule would impact some eighty million people and require large businesses to mandate that their workers receive vaccine shots or submit weekly testing reports. Conservative Amy Coney Barrett, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas suggested that the federal government’s rule, issued under an agency’s emergency authority, was too broad.

Two of the former Republican President Donald Trump’s nominees, Brett Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, questioned whether a federal health agency could issue a regulation with such vast political and economic significance without the explicit approval of Congress. Moreover, the Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts seemed to agree on that argument by wondering if the government responded on an agency-by-agency basis to get around that some states and Congress failed to act.

On the other hand, the second case concerned a rule that mandates specific healthcare workers who work for facilities in Medicaid and Medicare programs to obtain vaccination shots. In that conflict, more justices seemed interested in the authority of the federal government, specifically Chief Justice, who suggested a closer link exists between the vaccine mandates and health care workers. He explained that individuals already get ill when they go to the hospital, but if they go and face Coronavirus concerns, that is much worse.

Liberal Justices Expressed Support for Biden Administration’s Authority to Issue Mandates

They also asked if GOP-led states behind the challenge the official right had to be in court because they only run some of the health facilities. Neither employees nor the facilities challenged the Biden requirement, something Kavanaugh noted during verbal arguments. During both arguments, the liberal judges expressed repeated support for the authority of the Biden government to issue mandates intended at combating the Coronavirus that already killed over eight hundred thousand Americans.

All those liberal justices were deeply questioning arguments that the vaccine mandates could massively produce staff shortages, including billions of dollars in compliance costs. At one stage, Justice Elena Kagan said that this was a deadly pandemic in which approximately ten million people died countrywide. So far, it is the most significant public health danger that the nation has faced in the last century, where more and more individuals are dying daily.

She added that it is an exceptional use of the emergency authority occurring in an exceptional circumstance that the country never faced before. Finally, Justice Stephen Breyer spoke about new Coronavirus cases, arguing that the hospitals are full across the county. She added that she would find it unbelievable that it could be in the public interest to stop these vaccinations’ mandates instantly.

Biden Administration Defends the Regulation

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rule charged with assuring a safe workplace – requires businesses with hundred or more employees to ensure that their employees receive all vaccine doses or face regular weekly testing and wear a face mask at work. Additionally, there are exceptions for those workers with religious objections and beliefs. The agency falls under the United States Labor Department, which said that it had the power to act under an emergency interim standard meant to protect the workforce if they are open to grave danger.

Supreme Court Appears to Block Federal COVID Mandates
Supreme Court Appears to Block Federal COVID Mandates
Source: Web

The Biden government defends the vaccine regulation and argues that the country faces a fatal pandemic infecting and killing thousands of employees nationwide. Further, it added that any delay in implementing the vaccination requirement or submitting to weekly testing would result in unnecessary severe illness, hospitalizations, and death.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar told judges that Coronavirus is the lethal pandemic in U.S. history, and it poses a specifically severe workplace danger. In addition, she said that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had the power to act in a way that would save sixty-five hundred lives and prevent around two hundred fifty-thousand hospitalizations in only six months.

On the other hand, a lawyer for the National Federation of Independent Business, representing an alliance of business groups, told judges that Occupational Safety and Health Administration didn’t have the power to put in place a vaccine or testing administration that would cover two-thirds of all private-sector employees. Similarly, the lawyer Scott A. Keller stressed that the regulatory agency requirement would impose substantial compliance consequences on businesses that will face the cost of testing for millions of workers who refuse to vaccinate.

Read Also: Biden Government Defends its Authority on Vaccine Policies