Breaking — Today, the Supreme Court struck a blow to the Biden Administration’s two-pronged vaccine mandate affecting American businesses and healthcare workers. In a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that President Biden lacked the authority to mandate vaccines on businesses with 100 or more employees. Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Thomas, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, and Barrett concurred. Justice Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented.
The mandate, which went into effect on Monday, January 10, 2022, was expected to affect nearly 84 million American workers. If it was upheld, the rule was sure to be a nail in the coffin to many struggling businesses hit hard from the pandemic. Unvaccinated employees would be subject to losing their job and businesses failing to follow the mandate faced hefty fines of up to almost $137,000. As Justice Gorsuch stated:
“The agency claims the power to force 84 million Americans to receive a vaccine or undergo regular testing. By any measure, that is a claim of power to resolve a question of vast national significance. Yet Congress has nowhere clearly assigned so much power to OSHA. Approximately two years have passed since this pandemic began; vaccines have been available for more than a year. Over that span, Congress has adopted several major pieces of legislation aimed at combating COVID–19. E.g., American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Pub. L. 117–2, 135 Stat. 4. But Congress has chosen not to afford OSHA — or any federal agency — the authority to issue a vaccine mandate.”
However, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers. In this decision, Chief Justice Roberts, along with Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Kavanaugh, and Kagan concurred. Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Barrett dissented.
The Court cited the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s ability to use Medicare or Medicaid payments as he believes best promote the “health and safety of individuals who have furnished services in the institution.” Consequently, healthcare entities that receive these funds can be subject to the vaccine mandate. Justice Thomas in his dissent rightly remarked, “Contrary to the Government’s position, this kind of catchall provision does not authorize every regulation related to “health and safety.”’ He continues, “the Court does not explain why the bare existence of these regulations is evidence of what Congress empowered the agency to do. Relying on them appears to put the cart before the horse. Regardless, these regulations provide scant support for the sweeping power the Government now claims.”
While Eagle Forum is relieved in the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the vaccine mandate on American businesses, we are saddened by the healthcare worker mandate.
“Eagle Forum is thankful that the Supreme Court overturned the overreaching OSHA mandate,” said Eagle Forum President Colleen Holcomb. “But we are terribly disappointed that the Supreme Court allowed the devastating healthcare worker mandate to stand on such constitutionally weak footing. This holding represents a blow to the Constitution, and we are heartbroken by the devastating impact it will have on Americans in need of healthcare, particularly vulnerable Americans, like those in underserved rural communities. We must keep working to change our elected leaders in Congress and the White House to ensure that this devastating policy gets overturned.”