The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked President Biden’s OSHA-backed vaccine-or-testing mandate for private businesses.
The court issued its ruling, saying that OSHA lacked the authority to impose the mandate. Three of the nine justices issued a dissenting opinion.
The conservative justices said that 84 million Americans being ordered to either obtain a COVID–19 vaccine or undergo weekly medical testing at their own expense was “no everyday exercise of federal power.”
“It is instead a significant encroachment into the lives—and health—of a vast number of employees,” the conservative justices said in the ruling.
“Contrary to the dissent’s contention, imposing a vaccine mandate on 84 million Americans in response to a worldwide pandemic is simply not ‘part of what the agency was built for,'” they added.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a separate ruling on Thursday, is allowing a vaccine mandate to proceed for health care workers who work at facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) originally filed an emergency temporary standard with various COVID rules in early November.
Under the standard, employers, who have more than 100 employees, were to develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose to either be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work.
“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on workers, and we continue to see dangerous levels of cases,” U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said at the time.
“We must take action to implement this emergency temporary standard to contain the virus and protect people in the workplace against the grave danger of COVID-19,” Walsh said.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a stay on OSHA’s emergency temporary standard in November after it was issued.
The ruling came after multiple Republican-led states filed legal challenges against the standard.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in a 2-1 ruling in December, overturned the Fifth Circuit’s previous ruling.
The Sixth Circuit’s ruling was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard arguments in the case last week before issuing their decision on Thursday.