The US Supreme Court has stayed the enforcement of the Biden administration’s Covid-19 jab requirement for businesses with 100 or more employees, rolled out as an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule.
The 6-3 decision was announced on Thursday, with the liberal-leaning justices Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor dissenting.
Announced by President Joe Biden in September, but not finalized until two months later, the mandate would have required businesses to ensure their employees were vaccinated, or get tested weekly at their own expense. It applied to roughly 84 million American workers and overrode any state laws to the contrary.
“OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate. Nor has Congress,” the court said in the 30-page opinion, accepting the claim from the plaintiffs that it exceeded the agency’s statutory authority and was otherwise unlawful.
“Agreeing that applicants are likely to prevail, we grant their applications and stay the rule,” the court said.
OSHA has legal authority to regulate workplace dangers, but not “the hazards of daily life—simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock,” as doing so would significantly expand its authority without clear authorization from Congress, the majority opinion said.
In a separate but related case, the court allowed the White House to mandate the jabs for employees of federally funded health care facilities, which had also been challenged. That was a 5-4 decision, with Justices Roberts and Kavanaugh siding with their liberal colleagues and Justices Alito, Barrett, Thomas and Gorsuch dissenting.