WASHINGTON (News Nation Now) The Supreme Court has prevented the Biden administration from enforcing a requirement that employees at major companies be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly and wear a mask at work.
At the same time, the court allows the government to proceed with a vaccine mandate for most health care workers in the US
The court’s conservative majority concluded that the government has overstepped its authority by attempting to impose the vaccine-or-test rule on U.S. companies with at least 100 employees. More than 80 million people are said to have been affected by the mandate.
“OSHA has never imposed such a mandate before. Neither does Congress. Indeed, while Congress has passed important legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic, it has refused to enact measures similar to what OSHA has enacted here,” the conservatives wrote in an unsigned opinion.
In contradiction, the court’s three liberals argued that it was the court that went too far by substituting its rulings for health experts. “The Court is acting beyond its jurisdiction and without a legal basis, supplanting the rulings of government officials who have been given responsibility to respond to workplace health emergencies,” wrote Judges Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. in a joint dissent.
The vaccine mandate that the court allows to be enforced nationwide encompasses virtually all health professionals in the country. It applies to health care providers who receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding, potentially affecting 76,000 healthcare facilities and home care providers. The rule has medical and religious exceptions.
The decision came after a NewsNation survey of 1,000 registered voters, completed this week by Headquarters Decision, discovered that mask requirements are more popular than vaccine requirements. The poll found more people approve the requirements for indoor masks than the vaccine requirements — and by almost 20 percentage points. You can read the full NewsNation survey here.
This was the first time Supreme Court weighed in on government’s COVID-19 vaccine policy, though judges have previously rejected pleas to block state-level mandates.
In October 2021, the Supreme Court upheld Indiana University’s vaccine mandate. It did the same for a health worker mandate in Maine, and then again for health workers in New York.
However, the Supreme Court has not always supported the government’s actions during the pandemic. A New York ban on personal religious events was overturned, as was the federal government’s moratorium on eviction.
About 33% of all Americans have had their booster shot, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to CDC data, more than 62% of the population is considered fully vaccinated.