January 14, 2022

Supreme Court Blocks Biden Vaccine Mandate for Businesses

The Supreme Court on Jan 13 blocked the Biden administration's rule that would have required private businesses to enforce vaccine-or-test mandates on their employees. At the same time, the Supreme Court ruled that the Biden administration could enforce a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on health care workers.

Vaccine mandates are particularly troubling for pro-life advocates, many of whom do not want to take the currently available COVID-19 vaccines. All of these vaccines were developed and/or manufactured with the use of cell lines harvested from aborted babies.

The court ruled 6-3 against the rule that would have required vaccine-or-test policies at all private businesses with 100 or more employees. The conservative justices voted in the majority on that decision.

The vaccine requirement for healthcare workers was allowed in a 5-4 decision. In that ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh sided with the liberal justices.

The mandate for businesses would have been enforced under OSHA, which the majority ruled did not have the power to impose such a mandate.

"Administrative agencies are creatures of statute. They accordingly possess only the authority that Congress has provided," the majority wrote. "...The question, then, is whether the Act plainly authorizes the Secretary’s mandate. It does not. The Act empowers the Secretary to set workplace safety standards, not broad public health measures."

The mandate for health care workers, on the other hand, will be enforced through the authority granted by the Social Security Act. That law authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to “make and publish such rules and regulations” that “may be necessary to the efficient administration” of Medicare and Medicaid programs.

"The challenges posed by a global pandemic do not allow a federal agency to exercise power that Congress has not conferred upon it," the majority wrote in its decision for the health care worker case. "At the same time such unprecedented circumstances provide no grounds for limiting the exercise of authorities the agency has long been recognized to have."