U.S. Supreme Court Building

United States Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

(The Ohio Press Network) - The Biden administration overstepped its authority by attempting to impose the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's vaccine-or-test rule on U.S. businesses with 100 or more employees. This was the ruling this afternoon by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decision is a victory for 27 Republican-led states, including Ohio, that sued to challenge the OSHA policy.

This afternoon’s ruling stops the Biden administration from enforcing a requirement that workers at large businesses get the COVID-19 inoculation or submit to weekly testing while wearing a mask on the job. The mandate would have demanded 80 million workers to get shots or periodic tests.

The court also voted to allow a separate rule take effect that requires COVID-19 vaccines for employees in nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities that get Medicare and Medicaid payments from the federal government.

Regarding the vote on the OSHA regulation, business groups nationwide attacked the mandate as too costly for companies as it would likely cause many employees to leave at a time when retaining and hiring new workers is already challenging.

“Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly. OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate. Nor has Congress. Indeed, 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,” the conservative justices wrote in an unsigned opinion.

The court's three liberals argued that the court was overreaching by implementing its judgment over health experts.

“Acting outside of its competence and without legal basis, the Court displaces the judgments of the Government officials given the responsibility to respond to workplace health emergencies,” Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor wrote.

Only justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito noted their dissents on the vaccine mandate that the court will allow to be enforced nationwide, impacting almost all health-care workers in the U.S. The measure applies to health-care providers that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding, potentially impacting 76,000 health-care facilities along with home health-care providers.

Medical and religious exemptions are allowed in the rule.

“The challenges posed by a global pandemic do not allow a federal agency to exercise power that Congress has not conferred upon it. At the same time, such unprecedented circumstances provide no grounds for limiting the exercise of authorities the agency has long been recognized to have,” Justices Thomas and Alito wrote.

Jeff Louderback is an independent reporter and political correspondent for The Ohio Press Network.

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