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1.13.22 COVID-19 Bulletin: SCOTUS Blocks Vax-or-Test Rule

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Josh Veronica

January 13, 2022

This afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked OSHA’s emergency rule that required employees at workplaces of 100 or more to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or test weekly.  

The court issued a temporary stay, meaning that enforcement of the rule should be paused while circuit courts consider the case more fully.  

The rule has been subject to heavy litigation, being blocked by one circuit court and reinstated by another. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the rule last Friday, and OSHA began enforcement of the rule Monday.  

In the decision, the majority took issue with the fact that Congress did not weigh in on this mandate. The majority wrote that, “although Congress has enacted significant legislation addressing the COVID–19 pandemic, it has declined to enact any measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here. … Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life—simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock—would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.”  

Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan dissented.  

In a separate decision, the court voted 5-4 to uphold a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers in facilities that receive federal funds.  

The BNP will continue to keep you informed as the federal government debates this issue.  

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