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Biden Decries Supreme Court Ruling That Blocks Vaccine Rules for Workers

The High Court placed a stay on the enforcement of vaccine rules for workers at companies with 100 employees or more.

People pour salt on the front plaza of the U.S. Supreme Court on Capitol Hill on January 7, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden reacted to the Supreme Court’s decision to place a stay on a rule requiring that workers at large companies get vaccinated against COVID-19 or get tested for the virus weekly.

Biden said that he was “disappointed” in the Court’s ruling, describing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) rule for businesses with 100 workers or more as “life-saving” and a “modest burden” for workers to adhere to.

All six conservative bloc justices voted in favor of the stay on the rule, which now returns to lower courts for further examination of its constitutionality. While those arguments continue, the OSHA rule will not be enforced, per the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The three liberal bloc dissenters argued that the majority had overstepped their legal authority in imposing the stay on the OSHA rule.

The majority imposes “a limit found no place in the governing statute,” the dissenting opinion stated.

In a second ruling, the Court decided to allow the enforcement of vaccine rules for health care workers who are employed at facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined with liberal bloc justices to reach that decision.

Biden praised the ruling on requirements for health care workers, saying that the rule his administration crafted “will save lives” of “patients who seek care in medical facilities, as well as the lives of doctors, nurses, and others who work there.” But the president disagreed with the Court’s decision on rules for workers at larger businesses.

“As a result of the Court’s decision, it is now up to States and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees, and whether their businesses will be safe for consumers during this pandemic by requiring employees to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated,” Biden said.

He added:

I call on business leaders to immediately join those who have already stepped up – including one third of Fortune 100 companies – and institute vaccination requirements to protect their workers, customers, and communities.

The Supreme Court has indicated a willingness to accept other vaccine rules, including mandates at the state level. In October, for example, the Court refused to impose a stay on a vaccine mandate for health care workers in Maine, allowing the state’s rule to remain in place while it was facing appeals challenges. The Court has also refused to intervene in cases relating to vaccine rules imposed in New York and Indiana.

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