U.S. Supreme Court blocks Biden’s private sector vaccine mandate

"Americans have lost too much to this disease already — all of us want this pandemic to end — but it is critical that we do not lose our Constitution, too."

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the COVID-19 response and vaccination program, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021. (White House/Flickr)

(The Center Square) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate on private sector businesses, though it allowed a separate mandate to stand for certain health care workers.

The private sector ruling came on a 6-3 vote, with the court’s three liberal justices all siding with the Biden administration’s argument that the mandates are legal, and its majority conservative wing saying only Congress has the authority to give the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) the power to implement such a widespread federal mandate.

“The question before us is not how to respond to the pandemic, but who holds the power to do so. The answer is clear: Under the law as it stands today, that power rests with the States and Congress, not OSHA,” justices wrote in the majority opinion.

OSHA implemented the private sector mandate, which was set to affect 84 million workers across the country. If the Supreme Court upheld the mandate, businesses with 100 or more employees would have been required to check the vaccine status of all of their workers. Those who were not fully vaccinated would have faced weekly COVID-19 tests. Companies who violated the mandate faced stiff fines.

In December, the U.S. Senate voted to rescind Biden’s vaccine mandate, with two Democrats joining all Republicans in the vote. The U.S. House has not taken a vote on the matter.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who led 27 states in their lawsuit against the Biden administration, celebrated the ruling.

“Americans have lost too much to this disease already — all of us want this pandemic to end — but it is critical that we do not lose our Constitution, too,” Yost said. “Today’s ruling protects our individual rights and states’ rights to pursue the solutions that work best for their citizens.”

The court heard oral arguments Friday from administration attorneys and attorneys representing states and individuals challenging the constitutional authority of the president to issue such mandates.

“The federal government has no business dictating the private and personal health care decisions of tens of millions of Americans, nor does it have the authority to coerce employers into collecting protected health care data on their employees,” Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts said. “By striking down the Biden regime’s unlawful COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the Supreme Court has signaled its agreement with this basic tenet of a well-functioning and free society.”

In a separate ruling, the Supreme Court upheld a Biden vaccine mandate for most health care workers at providers that receive Medicaid and Medicare dollars.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the liberal wing in upholding the health care mandate in a 5-4 decision.