by R. Mitchell –
The Supreme Court issued two rulings on four cases challenging whether the Biden administration could enforce a vaccine mandate on private employers and, separately, on most healthcare workers.
Most Healthcare Workers Will Still Be Forced to Vaccinate
Biden v. Missouri and Becerra v. Louisiana challenged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) final rule that would force vaccines on workers employed by Medicare or Medicaid providers or suppliers. The justices ruled (5-4) that the rule was enforceable and could stand. Justices Roberts and Kavanaugh voted with the liberals to create the majority opinion.
Private Companies will not Have to Force Vaccination on Workers
National Federation of Independent Business v. OSHA and Ohio v. OSHA challenged the OSHA rule that would force all employers with 100 or more employers to implement a vaccine mandate and was struck down. The justices ruled that Congress has made no such law and conferred no such power to OSHA to force workers into a medical procedure they may not want.
The delineation between the OSHA and CMS rules is confounding. If Congress gave no such power to OSHA, when did it confer the same power to CMS? Just because one is a healthcare entity does not automatically empower it to force medical procedures on an unwilling populace and may set a dangerous precedent.
In Thomas’ dissent, he questioned CMS’ authority “to force healthcare workers, by coercing their employers, to undergo a medical procedure they do not want and cannot undo.” Justices Alito, Barrett, signed on to Thomas’ opinion while Alito wrote a separate dissent that they also joined.
The hearing on these cases was also unusual as the Justices heard oral arguments. Emergency hearings are normally held “on the papers” with no oral arguments given.
Federal Workers Still in Limbo
The mandate requiring federal workers to be vaccinated is on hold after lower courts blocked it. It has not been heard by the Supreme Court.
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