Supreme Court splits decision on vaccine mandates

The front facade of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.
The front facade of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.
Joe Ravi via Shutterstock

The nation’s highest court blocked the Biden administration’s order that employees at large businesses must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or test weekly and wear masks.

The conservative majority decided the administration exceeded its authority by trying to use the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to enforce the rule.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked OSHA’s regulations regarding the federal vaccine mandate on Nov. 7 and U.S. District Judge R. Stan Baker suspended the vaccine mandate for companies that contract with the U.S. government on Dec. 7.  

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The mandate would have affected roughly 80 million people who work at businesses with 100 or more employees. The court’s three liberal justices would have allowed the rule to take effect.

What about the healthcare mandate? Justices ruled 5-4 to uphold the requirement for healthcare providers to get the COVID-19 vaccine after U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp in Missouri blocked the mandate on Nov. 29. The mandate, which allows medical and religious exceptions, applies to at least 76,000 healthcare facilities and providers that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the liberal justices to provide the majority ruling. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito wrote dissenting opinions, both of which Justices Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett signed.

This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2022, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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