Supreme Court Axes Biden’s Employer Vaccine Mandate

The court nixed a private employer mandate, but allowed one for health workers

A man unpacks a box in a warehouse.

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The Supreme Court struck down President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for large private employers Thursday, nullifying a requirement that would have applied to 84 million people in the workforce this month and next while leaving intact a similar requirement for health care workers.

In a 6-3 ruling, the conservative majority of justices said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known as OSHA, doesn’t have the statutory authority to mandate that employers with 100 or more workers require their staff to either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or test for it weekly at their own expense. Siding with business groups and a coalition of states who had sued to stop OSHA, the court called the order a “a significant encroachment into the lives—and health—of a vast number of employees.” 

With the employer mandate overturned, Biden called on state governments and individual workplaces to require vaccinations. 

“I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen to block common-sense life-saving requirements for employees at large businesses that were grounded squarely in both science and the law,” he said in a statement. 

The court ruled 5-4 that a separate vaccine mandate for health care workers could stand, impacting an estimated 10.4 million people. That order requires facilities accepting the government’s Medicare and Medicaid funding to ensure vaccination of their employees, with only medical and religious exemptions allowed.

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