Update (1446ET): Aside from the utter lack of basic knowledge of Covid-19 exhibited by some of the USSC Justices (see below), the court seemed skeptical of the Biden administration's claim that it has the authority to force vaccine mandates on over 84 million private sector employees.
"OSHA’s sweeping regulatory dictate," will "irreparably injure the very businesses that Americans have counted on to widely distribute COVID-19 vaccines and protective equipment to save lives—and to keep them fed, clothed, and sustained during this now two-year-long pandemic," argued the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) vs. the Department of Labor, in the Court's first hearing.
The mandate will "convert hundreds of thousands of businesses into de facto public health agencies for two-thirds of America’s private employees," the continued.
In the second case, Biden v. Missouri, the federal government is attempting to lift lower court stays which have blocked the enforcement of a Nov. 4, 2021 emergency regulation from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Epoch Times reports.
uring oral arguments on the private sector mandate, Chief Justice John Roberts said the federal government appears to be overreaching.
The executive branch is attempting to “cover the waterfront” by imposing COVID-19 policies on the population at large instead of leaving the matter to Congress, Roberts said.
“This has been referred to … as a workaround,” he said. “This is something that the federal government hasn’t done before.”
This pandemic “sounds like the sort of thing that states will be responding to or should be and Congress should be responding to or should be, rather than agency by agency the federal government and the executive branch acting alone,” the chief justice said.
Justice Neil Gorsuch said health regulations normally fall to the states.
“If there is an ambiguity, why isn’t this a major question that therefore belongs to the people’s representatives in the states and in the halls of Congress?” he said.
NFIB attorney Scott A. Keller said OSHA’s “economy-wide, one-size-fits-all mandate covering 84 million Americans is not a necessary and indispensable use of OSHA’s extraordinary emergency power which this court has recognized is narrowly circumscribed.”
Keller noted that three days ago the U.S. Postal Service told OSHA that the mandate requirements “are so burdensome for employers that the federal government is now seeking an exemption from its own mandate for the Postal Service.”
“That’s because OSHA’s economy-wide mandate would cause permanent worker displacement rippling through our national economy, which is already experiencing labor shortages and fragile supply lines. OSHA has never before mandated vaccines or widespread testing,” he said.
OSHA, “a single federal agency tasked with occupational standards, cannot commandeer businesses economy-wide,” Keller said.
Justice Elena Kagan said federal agencies have expertise in disease management and suggested OSHA has the authority to make the mandate because “this is a pandemic in which nearly a million people have died.”
“It is by far the greatest public health danger that this country has faced in the last century. More and more people are dying every day; more and more people are getting sick every day,” she said.
Keller said he did not contest “that COVID is a grave danger … but the agency has to consider and explain alternatives.” OSHA, instead “jumped immediately to a vaccine or testing mandate.”
The second hearing, dealing with the health care worker mandate, was underway at press time.
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Update (1143ET): The Supreme Court, which is hearing arguments over vaccine mandates, displayed a stunning lack of knowledge of basic Covid-19 facts during today's oral arguments.
The worst offender - Justice Sotamayor - who not only claimed that there are "100,000 children in serious condition," with many on ventilators (there are 3,342 per HHS with many or most being incidental covid positives alongside other conditions), but that Omicron is as deadly as Delta.
This is just absolutely astonishing. "100,000 children in serious condition," per Sotomayor. Where do these people obtain their misinformation? The current national pediatric COVID census per HHS is 3,342. Many/most incidental.— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) January 7, 2022
J. Sotomayor says Omicron is as deadly as Delta. #SCOTUS— Shannon Bream (@ShannonBream) January 7, 2022
Sotomayor claims simultaneously that the vaccine is necessary prevent severe illness (and does so) but that unvaccinated pose risk to other unvaccinated and vaccinated. No logical consistency here.— Jenin Younes (@Leftylockdowns1) January 7, 2022
The "wise Latina" also posited: "Why is a human spewing a virus not like a machine spewing sparks?"
"Why is a human spewing a virus not like a machine spewing sparks?" Sotomayor is...um. Wow.— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) January 7, 2022
It's good our Wise Latina SCOTUS justice apparently got her legal expertise and degree from MSNBC University— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) January 7, 2022
The country would have been lost forever if Hillary had had 4 years to appoint judges. https://t.co/DrwHZdJAbx— Cernovich (@Cernovich) January 7, 2022
This stunningly ignorant amicus brief, filed by medical organizations in favor of the OSHA vax mandate, is the end of the credibility of public health. Is it really possible that scientists in those organizations are so unaware of the underlying science about which they write? https://t.co/KmGs3HWEFQ— Jay Bhattacharya (@DrJBhattacharya) January 1, 2022
So the fate of one of the most medically authoritarian schemes in US history is now in the hands of people who have no clue how this virus behaves.
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The Supreme Court on Friday is scheduled to hear at least two hours of arguments beginning at 10 a.m. EST after GOP state officials and business groups filed requests to block President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate for employers who have more than 100 workers, as well as a similar requirement for healthcare facilities.
Listen live here.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor has chosen to participate in the arguments from her chambers, and two arguing attorneys, the solicitors general of Ohio and Louisiana, will also participate remotely by telephone, a court spokeswoman said.
The justices spent most of the pandemic working remotely but returned to in-person arguments in October. All nine are fully vaccinated, the court said. The court remains closed to the public due to the pandemic. -Reuters
The plaintiffs have argued that the Biden administration exceeded its authority by imposing requirements that were never authorized by Congress, and that it f ailed to follow the proper administrative rules for issuing emergency regulations.
Of note - and possible relevance to the argument; in July, Biden explicitly stated that people who take the vaccine will not get COVID-19, a statement we know (and knew at the time) was false.
Under one of the Biden policies, OSHA required that businesses employing more than 100 employees need to require vaccinations or weekly testing - which would apply to more than 80 million workers nationwide.
Taking the lead in trying to block the mandate is the state of Ohio and the National Federation of Independent Business. Meanwhile, several religious groups, including the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, have filed similar cases.
The second policy under consideration by the Supreme Court requires that approximately 10.3 million workers across 76,000 healthcare facilities receive the vaccine.