WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – The Supreme Court is considering the fate of another Biden administration effort against COVID: a federal mandate requiring tens of millions of workers to get vaccinated or take weekly tests.
The court Monday seemed prepared to block what the Biden administration calls a powerful tool for fighting COVID a mandate that companies with more than 100 employees require their workers to get COVID vaccines or wear masks and take a weekly test. It applies to 80 million people.
Businesses and red states sued.
The CEO of a Minnesota trucking company said drivers who refuse to get vaccinated will quit and work for smaller firms and that a testing requirement doesn’t make sense for truckers.
The rule was imposed by OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The White House said it has authority over workplace hazards.
President Joe Biden said, “The bottom line: we’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers.”
Monday, the Supreme Court’s liberals said the need is urgent.
Justice Elena Kagan stated, “It is by far the greatest public health danger that this country has faced in the last century. More and more people are dying every day.”
“We are now having deaths at an unprecedented amount,” Justice Sonya Sotomayor said. “Catching COVID keeps people out of the workplace for extraordinary periods of time.”
But the court’s conservative majority was skeptical that OSHA has the legal authority to issue such a sweeping nationwide ruling.
“If you’re vaccinated while you’re on the job, you’re vaccinated when you’re not on the job,” Justice Samuel Alito said. “Isn’t this different from anything OSHA has done before in that respect?”
Justice John Roberts said, “Why isn’t Congress have a say in this, and why doesn’t this be the primary responsibility of the states?”
But in a separate case, the court seems prepared to rule that the government can require vaccinations for nearly 20 million healthcare workers.
Decisions could come within a few days.