WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has barred the Biden administration from requiring employees of large businesses to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly and wear a mask at work.
LISTEN: Supreme Court holds special session on vaccine requirements
At the same time, the court is allowing the administration to begin vaccinating most healthcare workers in the US.
Thursday’s court rulings during a surge in coronavirus cases were mixed for the administration’s efforts to boost vaccination rates among Americans.
A conservative majority in the court concluded that the administration had overstepped its authority by trying to impose Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules about vaccines or tests on US businesses with at least 100 employees. More than 80 million people would have been affected.
“OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate. Congress too. Indeed, while Congress has passed important legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic, it has refused to take any action like the one OSHA has unveiled here,” the Conservatives wrote in an unsigned opinion.
Disagreeing, the three liberals of the court argued that it was the court that overdid it by replacing health experts with its judgments.
“Acting outside of its jurisdiction and without legal basis, the Court overturns the decisions of public officials who are required to respond to health emergencies in the workplace,” Judges Steven Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonya Sotomayor wrote in a joint dissent.
The vaccination mandate, which the court will allow to go into effect nationwide, covers virtually all healthcare workers in the country.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 208 million Americans, 62.7% of the population, are fully vaccinated, and more than a third of them have received boosters. All nine judges received additional vaccinations.