The United States Supreme Court is set to hear two separate cases today on an emergency application, challenging the vaccine mandates of the President of the United State of America, Joe Biden.
The motions include a vaccine-or-testing mandate for large employers and a vaccination requirement for certain healthcare workers.
According to Reuters, the challengers which include religious entities, various Republican-led U.S states and business groups argued that president Biden and his administration have overstepped their authority with the vaccine mandate.
In what is called the first test of the federal government’s authority to issue its own vaccine mandate, the U.S Supreme Court is expected to decide whether or not to block Biden’s vaccine mandate.
The vaccine mandate which is central to Biden’s Administration is aimed at tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. The first mandate is targeted at businesses with 100 or more employees. According to the administration’s estimate, 22 million people would be vaccinated in order to prevent 250,000 hospitalizations.
The second mandate entails vaccinating healthcare workers working in hospitals against the COVID-19 virus. In an emergency application, the administration stated that the measure is estimated to save hundreds or thousands of lives monthly. The second mandate is applicable to an estimated 10.3 million Americans working in healthcare facilities that receive money under the Medicaid and Medicare government programs.
While the challengers are asking the court to block the vaccine mandate, Biden’s administration is seeking the Supreme Court to lift orders by federal judges in Missouri and Louisiana blocking the policy in half the 50 U.S. states pending the determination of the matter.
The challengers are arguing that by issuing requirements that were not authorised by Congress, the government has overstepped its statutory authority. According to them, both vaccine mandates are of sufficient political and economic significance to require a clear statement from congress before proceeding with it.
In November 2021, the U.S Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration ( OSHA), issued the Vaccination-or-testing requirements for Large employers.
OSHA, under a 1970 law, has the mandate to issue emergency rules for workplace safety as long as it can prove that workers are exposed to danger.
According to New York times, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary had said that it was critical to protect workers with vaccination requirements and testing protocols that are urgently needed as the U.S faces the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
The vaccine mandate is part of Biden’s efforts to increase the vaccination rate of the U.S. The administration has said that compliance with the health worker policy will commence on January 10, and companies have till February 9 to set up testing programmes.
Some states have already blocked the measure. However, In states where this regulation has not been blocked, workers are required to be fully vaccinated by February 28.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld state vaccine mandates in a variety of settings against constitutional challenges. But the new cases are different because they primarily present the question of whether Congress has authorized the executive branch to institute the requirements.
9 justices of the Supreme Court will hear the arguments today in two separate cases.
What you should know
- The trial is called an emergency application because the judges were not supposed to resume until January 10.
- The Supreme Court has restricted its operations during the pandemic as members of the public are still barred from entering the court building since March 2020.
- Journalists and lawyers are required to take COVID-19 tests in order to attend today’s proceedings.
- The nine justices expected to hear the matter today, are fully vaccinated and have received booster doses.