Supreme Court to hear oral arguments for Biden admin’s vaccine mandates, special hearing on Jan 7

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The U.S. Supreme Court announced Wednesday justices will year oral arguments in two cases involving the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

One challenge involves a mandate on businesses with 100 or more workers, while the other involves mandates on healthcare workers at facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds, reports noted.

Attorneys general from several GOP-led states as well as businesses and industry advocates have all filed suit to block the mandate in federal courts for months after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued various mandates in early November. They were summarily blocked by the 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans, leading OSHA to suspend its mandate, issued under a little-used emergency authority, a few weeks later.

Courts in the past have mostly upheld the right of private companies and schools to implement their own vaccine requirements, the lawsuits challenging Biden’s mandates are aimed at determining whether the federal government has the power to determine such requirements for the private sector generally.

“The reasoning across the cases is basically the same, which is that these statutes don’t give the president or the agency in question the authority to issue the mandates,” Gregory Magarian, a constitutional law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, told Fox News. reported that a special hearing on the suits has been scheduled for Jan. 7, with a ruling expected shortly thereafter, given the urgency of the ongoing pandemic and the emergency of the omicron variant, which has been spreading rapidly but which is reportedly not nearly as potent as the original strains.

Currently, the outlet noted, the original court decision blocking the mandate for private businesses is in effect after being overturned on appeal, but the mandate for healthcare workers is still blocked in half of the 50 states.

Experts differ on which way the court will rule, given its ostensibly 6-3 conservative-leaning majority.

The employer mandate’s biggest blow came from U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana Judge Terry Doughty, who ruled that the administration simply lacks the authority to bypass Congress and issue the mandate when he struck it down nationwide.

“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,” he wrote. “If human nature and history teach anything, it is that civil liberties face grave risks when governments proclaim indefinite states of emergency.”

That said, the Biden administration defended the mandates by arguing they have been legally successful at the federal level in the past.

“We know vaccination requirements work,” said a White House official after the ruling, Fox News reported. “The federal government, the country’s largest employer, has successfully implemented its requirement in a way that has boosted vaccinations and avoids any disruptions to operations.”

Jon Dougherty


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