Today, The Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private businesses but decided to let a separate regulation that requires health care workers to get a vaccine take effect. In 6-3 ruling on matter affecting private companies, the justices – lead by the Chief Justice John Roberts, halted the mandate for all private employers with 100 or more workers, ruling the states and companies that challenged the rule were likely to succeed. In so doing, they rejected the Biden Administration officials argument that the 1970 organic Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) gave them the authority to impose the mandate.
The majority held in part, that: “Applicants (i.e., states and private businesses) are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the Secretary lacked authority to impose the mandate. Administrative agencies are creatures of statute. They accordingly possess only the authority that Congress has provided. The Secretary has ordered 84 million Americans to either obtain a COVID–19 vaccine or undergo weekly medical testing at their own expense. This is no ‘everyday exercise of federal power.’ It is instead a significant encroachment into the lives—and health—of a vast number of employees.” As for the health care workers mandate, the justices hesitated on whether or not the government had a winnable argument – and thus, allowed the rule to remain in place pending a final determination.
However, even the private business requirement is not entirely put to rest, since the ruling means the mandate is blocked while the case goes back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which overturned a stay that had been imposed by a different appeals court.