Is SCOTUS right to block Biden's private sector vaccine mandate?


Fact Box

  • On January 13, 2022, the US Supreme Court ruled against Biden’s private sector vaccine mandate asserting “the mandate exceeded the Biden administration’s authority.” In a separate ruling, they mentioned a “limited mandate” could work for government-funded healthcare facilities. 
  • On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced a federally-imposed vaccine mandate for over 80 million private sector and federal American workers. 
  • A September 2021 Gallup poll found that 60% of Americans were in favor of federal employees vaccine mandates, 58% for companies with 100 or more employees, and 63% in agreement with healthcare worker vaccine mandates. 
  • The CDC reported the Omicron variant is the cause of 705,264 new cases, which is “more than double” the January 2021 peak. 
  • As of January 15, 2022, 208.8 million people have been vaccinated in the United States which is 62.9% of the population, while 74.8% have had at least one dose.

Siam (No)

The six-member conservative majority of the US Supreme Court recently ruled against President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate for employers of large businesses. SCOTUS ruled that OSHA was out of its lane by implementing this mandate. In the face of a pandemic that has killed over 840,000 Americans and 5.8 million people, globally, SCOTUS has erred seriously in voting against the mandate for these reasons.

First, OSHA experts carefully estimated that by having a vaccine mandate at work that applied to 80 million American workers for six months would save an estimated 6,500 lives. Next, the covid pandemic has not subsided; it is raging with new variants of the virus that appear to be more infectious and easily transmissible. In recent days, the hospitals have been on the brink of collapse because of mass admissions of Americans with COVID. At the same time, this has taken a severe toll on healthcare workers who are bordering on quitting. 

Now there is a severe shortage of testing supplies for COVID all over the nation. To make matters worse, there is a global shortage of treatments like oral antivirals and monoclonal antibodies to manage the symptoms of covid. Also, none of the justices who decided to reject the vaccine mandate have a background in science or medicine and yet have made a monumental decision that affects workers. Finally, even if a small number of workers are granted exceptions from taking the vaccine in the medical field, now there is less of an assurance that all workers and patients are safe.

Curtice (Yes)

Logic, not to mention the Constitution, compelled the Supreme Court to decide the only way it could in striking down President Biden's OSHA-enforced employer COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The majority opinion clearly stated the government could not make its case.

Initially, the president and media pundits told us that vaccinations would prevent the vaccinated from contracting the COVID-19 virus. Then we were told that one needed a second shot and then multiple booster shots to be safe. As the Omicron variant plainly demonstrates, being vaccinated does not prevent one from contracting or spreading the virus. 

Regardless, contracting COVID is not a workplace-related issue or even an industry-related issue. The employer mandate was obviously overly broad. While acknowledging Congress has granted OSHA the power to regulate occupational safety, the majority opinion stated, 'it does not have the power to regulate public health more broadly.' An unvaccinated (or vaccinated, for that matter) employee sitting behind a computer at a home office is of no risk of infecting any fellow employees

Further, despite assertions to the contrary, the Biden administration clearly knew it was on shaky constitutional ground, to begin with. First, Ron Klain, Biden's chief of staff, acknowledged this by stating the employer mandate was the 'ultimate work-around' to issuing a federal vaccine mandate. Then Biden announced that dealing with COVID must be solved at the state, not federal, level.

The Constitution does not grant the federal government such broad authority to control individuals' health decisions. And nothing is preventing free-thinking individuals from getting vaccinated or companies from taking other safety precautions on their own. It is good to see at least one branch of the federal government realize the Constitution does, in fact, limit the federal government by its very design.

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