September 30, 2022

SCOTUS to hear oral arguments in vaccine mandate challenges early next month

The battle over President Joe Biden’s sweeping COVID-19 vaccine mandates has finally arrived at the United States Supreme Court, and the panel is now slated to entertain oral arguments in a pair of challenges to the administration’s requirements, as Fox News reports.

Two of the three main mandate categories issued by the president, namely, the vaccine requirements for private businesses employing 100 or more employees and that compelling jabs for workers at healthcare facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds, will be considered on Jan. 7, according to NBC News.

The mandates have been subjected to a series of court challenges in federal courts nationwide, with judges in many cases putting a stop to their enforcement until the litigation concludes, and it was long expected that the matters would reach the high court for ultimate resolution.

Until the justices rule on the two categories of legal challenges, lower court rulings will be permitted to stand, a scenario which permits the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule pertaining to large private employers to be enforced, and facilitates partial enforcement of the rule related to healthcare workers.

Though the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently lifted a stay that had stopped the OSHA rule’s enforcement, the agency announced that it would not engage in enforcement actions of any sort prior to Jan. 10 and would not start citing business for compliance failures prior to Feb. 9, NBC News further noted.

The mandate pertaining to healthcare workers in facilities receiving federal funds had previously been blocked by appeals court judges in decisions that impacted 24 states, though the requirement is still in place everywhere else, with the status quo in those respective parts of the country remaining unchanged for the time being.

As Fox News noted, courts have traditionally afforded schools and businesses the ability to put vaccine mandates in place, but the current challenges have to do with whether the federal government has the power necessary to compel those entities to do so without the involvement of Congress.

In a ruling halting enforcement of the employer mandate, federal Judge Terry Doughty encapsulated the view of many opponents of Biden’s mandate, writing, “If the executive branch is allowed to usurp the power of the legislative branch to make laws, two of the three powers conferred by our Constitution would be in the same hands,” according to Fox News.

Doughty added, “If human nature and history teach anything, it is that civil liberties face grave risks when governments proclaim indefinite states of emergency,” and given the sad reality that that is precisely what Biden appears intent on doing, it is incumbent on the high court to put his authoritarian impulses in check.

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