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01/13/2022

Supreme Court Blocks Federal Vaccine Mandate for Businesses

The majority of the justices concluded the Biden Administration overstepped its authority.
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COVID-19 vaccine bottles

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against the federal vaccine mandate.

In a decision announced Thursday afternoon, the court stopped the Biden Administration from enforcing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) rule that states all businesses with 100 or more employees require proof of vaccination. Unvaccinated employees would be required to be tested for COVID-19 once a week and wear a mask.

According to The Associated Press, the Supreme Court's conservative majority concluded the administration overstepped its authority with OSHA's emergency temporary standard. The mandate would have affected more than 80 million.

"OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate. Nor has Congress. Indeed, although Congress has enacted significant legislation addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, it has declined to enact any measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here," the conservatives wrote in an unsigned opinion.

In dissent, the court's three liberals argued that it was the court that was overreaching by substituting its judgment for that of health experts. "Acting outside of its competence and without legal basis, the court displaces the judgments of the government officials given the responsibility to respond to workplace health emergencies," Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a joint dissent.

The U.S. Supreme Court took up the issue of the federal vaccine mandate on Friday, Jan. 7. The court slated the oral arguments on the mandate for a special session just days before OHSA began enforcement of the rule on Jan. 10.

Despite its ruling on the federal vaccine mandate for large business, the court is allowing the administration to proceed with a vaccine mandate for most health care workers in the United States, the AP reported.

Please check back with Convenience Store News for industry reaction to the court's ruling.