US Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Cases Challenging Biden Admin's Vaccine Mandates
The Biden administration rolled out its vaccine requirements for large employers, healthcare workers, and federal contractors in November, quickly prompting pushback and even legal challenges.
The US Supreme Court is hearing arguments on Friday in the legal challenges around the Biden administration's vaccine requirements for workplaces in the United States.
Among the challengers are mainly Republican-led states, along with GOP officials, religious groups, and businesses. One of the main issues is whether the Biden administration has the authority to enforce vaccination mandates and whether such requirements are constitutional.
As the arguments continued, conservative justices questioned the lawfulness of the vaccine-or-test mandates for large businesses.
The centrepiece of the legal debate unfolding on Friday is a decision
by the Department of Health and Human Services that requires workers to either get vaccinated or be tested for the coronavirus on a weekly basis. The order applies to all US companies employing 100 or more people, potentially affecting over 84 million workers across the country.
According to the Biden administration, the mandate would motivate
22 million people to get vaccinated and therefore prevent 250,000 hospitalisations. Assessing its other measure - the one that obliges hospital workers to get jabbed - the White House said it would “save hundreds or even thousands of lives each month”.
However, the sentiment does not enjoy unanimous support across the US, with critics disputing the authority of the Biden administration to impose such requirements.
Introduced in November, the coronavirus mandates have been challenged in several courts, with the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit first blocking the requirements for businesses for being “staggeringly overbroad". Later, another federal appeals court upheld the mandate
, arguing that OSHA had the authority to enforce such measures, citing dangers posed to workers by the pandemic.
Per the challengers, the mandate "would force millions of workers to choose between losing their jobs or complying with an unlawful federal mandate".
"The Secretary of Health and Human Services’ sweeping and unprecedented vaccine mandate for healthcare workers threatens to create a crisis in healthcare facilities in rural America", lawyers for Missouri and other Republican-led states challenging the mandates wrote in one of the court documents.
The two sides are set for a round of oral arguments on Friday, with the Supreme Court still closed for the public, but providing live audio footage of the hearing. All nine justices are said to have been vaccinated and received booster shots.