On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued mixed rulings in two cases challenging Biden administration COVID-19 vaccination mandates. These allowed certain health care workers to be required while preventing enforcement of a mandate for businesses employing 100 or more. This Occupational Safety and Hyg Administration rule, which took effect Monday, required that all businesses employing at least 100 people have their workers vaccinated or tested every week and use a mask.
OSHA was not authorized to impose this mandate, the Court found. The law that created OSHA “empowers Secretary to establish workplace safety standards and not broad public health measures.”
The Court ruled that COVID-19 was an occupational risk in many workplaces. However, the Court said it is not an occupational danger in most. COVID-19 is a disease that can be spread to homes, schools, sporting events, and anywhere else people meet. This kind of universal risk is not different from the daily dangers we all face from crime and air pollution or any number communicable diseases.
The Court ruled that OSHA’s mandate would “significantly expand” the agency’s authority beyond what Congress had allowed.
Biden v. Missouri ruled in contrast that Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra had the authority to order all health care workers who work at institutions that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding, unless they are granted medical or religious exemptions, to get the jab.
Multiple states claimed that HHS didn’t have the authority to issue such a mandate. However, the Court stated that “healthcare providers who wish to enroll in Medicare or Medicaid have always had to meet host conditions that address safe and effective delivery of healthcare and not just sound accounting.”