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Court blocks vaccine mandate for companies, allows health workers to do so

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Court blocks vaccine mandate for companies, allows health workers to do so

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WASHINGTON (CNS) – The Supreme Court, in a Jan.6-3 ruling, blocked a Biden administration rule that would have required employees at large companies to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or wear masks and get tested weekly for coronavirus.

In a separate 5-4 decision issued the same day, the court said the vaccination mandate for most healthcare workers could go into effect.

The rule for employees, in companies with more than 100 employees, was released last fall by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which estimated that the requirement would affect around 80 million workers. OSHA also said the rule would have saved thousands of lives and prevented hundreds of thousands of people from being hospitalized.

In an unsigned opinion, the judges said what many of them said in oral argument on January 7 during the emergency hearing on that warrant: that the administration was overstepping its authority.

“OSHA has never imposed such a mandate before. Neither does Congress. Indeed, although Congress has enacted important legislation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, it has refused to enact any measure similar to that which OSHA has enacted here, ”the judges wrote.

In a joint dissent, Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor disagreed, saying the government agency was acting within its authority, unlike the country’s High Court, which they described as “failing to know how to protect workplaces” while remaining “” exempt from any liability for any damage it causes.

The three judges challenging the business court ruling said that “in the face of a still raging pandemic, this court is telling the agency tasked with protecting worker safety that it may not do so on all the necessary workplaces ”.

They also said the court was undermining the ability of federal officials to “protect American workers from grave danger.”

OSHA’s rule for large corporations had been challenged by several states and companies, and lower courts initially prevented the requirement from going forward.

In lifting the regulatory suspension, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit called OSHA’s rule “an important step in limiting the transmission of a deadly virus.” .

In its separate ruling on healthcare workers on Jan. 13, the Supreme Court said the requirement that healthcare workers – who treat Medicare and Medicaid patients and must be vaccinated against COVID-19 – could come into effect.

This requirement, which includes medical and religious exceptions, had been blocked for 24 states by two federal appeals courts.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, who were among the four majority dissenters, wrote that “the challenges posed by a global pandemic do not allow a federal agency to exercise power that Congress did not give it” .

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Copyright © 2022 Catholic News Service / United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Court blocks vaccine mandate for companies, allows health workers to do so

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