Workers all over America can take a deep sigh of relief as news breaks that the United States Supreme Court voted to block Joe Biden’s vaccine and test mandate handed down through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The mandate would have affected close to 84 million Americans from businesses with 100 or more employees and ignored States’ laws that contradicted the federal government’s assumption of authority to require an invasive medical procedure.
If an employee was able to receive a rare exemption to the vaccine mandate, OSHA required them to obtain (at their own expense) weekly Covid testing and wear a face mask indoors.
The Supreme Court argued that since Congress has declined to enact any requirements through legislation, similar to what OSHA instituted through its mandate and that at no time in history has OSHA or Congress ever before imposed such a mandate.
“Congress enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970. The Act created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is part of the Department of Labor and under the supervision of its Secretary. As its name suggests, OSHA is tasked with ensuring occupational safety— that is, “safe and healthful working conditions.” It does so by enforcing occupational safety and health standards promulgated by the Secretary. Such standards must be “reasonably necessary or appropriate to provide safe or healthful employment.” (emphasis added). They must also be developed using a rigorous process that includes notice, comment, and an opportunity for a public hearing.
The Act contains an exception to those ordinary notice-and-comment procedures for “emergency temporary standards.” Such standards may “take immediate effect upon publication in the Federal Register.” Ibid. They are permissible, however, only in the narrowest of circum- stances: the Secretary must show (1) “that employees are exposed to grave danger from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards,” and (2) that the “emergency standard is necessary to protect employees from such danger.”
Prior to the emergence of COVID–19, the Secretary had used this power just nine times before (and never to issue a rule as broad as this one). Of those nine emergency rules, six were challenged in court, and only one of those was upheld in full.”
The Supreme Court ruled the challenges to the Biden’s vaccine mandate “are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the Secretary lacked authority to impose the mandate.” SCOTUS said the OSHA rule mandating vaccines or weekly testing does not abide by its limitations claiming this is no “everyday exercise of federal power.”
The opinion scoffed at OSHA’s defense that stopping the spread of Covid falls under the agency’s call to protect workers from “work-related dangers,” saying, “Although Covid-19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most.”
OSHA even argued this point in front of a federal court two years ago when it claimed the statute from which it derives its authority does “not authorize OSHA to issue sweeping health standards” affecting the lives of workers outside of the office.
“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,” wrote the opinion.
Covid can spread anywhere the justices argued.
“Under the law as it stands today, that power rests with the States and Congress, not OSHA,” concurred SCOTUS.
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