Biden Trying to 'Work Around Congress' to Get Votes for Vax Mandate After SCOTUS Session - Report
16:05 GMT 08.01.2022 (Updated: 20:36 GMT 19.10.2022)
Friday's session of the US Supreme Court did not appear to provide much hope for an optimistic outcome for the Biden administration's vaccine-or-test mandates. The court's conservative majority appeared to remain sceptical as to whether such mandates coming from the federal government are lawful.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost on Friday suggested that the Biden administration is already trying to "work around Congress" in order to get the votes for its vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses in the US, according to a Fox 8
While it is argued that it should be up to Congress or state government to decide on how to address the pandemic in the nation's workplaces, Yost asserted that the administration has turned to Congress because "they don't have the votes to do what they want to do".
The embattled mandate for large employers requires that all staffers working in companies employing more than 100 people get vaccinated or be subject to coronavirus testing on a weekly basis.
"COVID vaccines are safe and effective. I urge everyone to get vaccinated and boosted", Yost said at a press conference on Friday, according to Fox 8. "But that doesn't mean OSHA [the Occupational Safety and Health Administration] can mandate them".
On the day of the Supreme Court hearing, Yost took to his Twitter to say that "the one who enforces the law does not write the law".
"If a crisis is sufficient excuse to ignore the Constitution, we will find ourselves with a permanent crisis and no Constitution", he wrote.
And while the Biden administration insists that its mandate is going to save thousands of lives and prevent hundreds of hospitalisations by motivating people to get vaccinated, the sentiment does not appear to be fully shared by those on the Supreme Court.
The court's conservative majority is sceptical about the mandate, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. pointing out that "this is something that the federal government has never done before". Another conservative justice, Amy Coney Barrett, said that the mandate reaches too broadly: in her view, meatpacking plants and dental offices might be subject, but for landscapers, the regulation is not necessary. Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh questioned the authority of OSHA to impose such a mandate.
The regulation, however, has its supporters among the justices: for her part, liberal Sonia Sotomayor views the rule as a mandate for the unvaccinated to mask and get tested, not a vaccine mandate.
Biden's vaccine mandates have seen a tough fate in several courts: blocked by some and upheld by others, they ended up in the Supreme Court, challenged by 27 Republican attorneys general asking to halt the regulation that is set to go into effect on Monday. On Friday, SCOTUS heard oral arguments for two cases: mandates for healthcare workers and mandate-or-test requirements for large employers.