Jan 7, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court seems skeptical of Biden's vaccine mandates

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday appeared likely to curtail the Biden administration’s most sweeping mandate for COVID-19 vaccinations.

The big picture: A majority of the justices seemed to believe that the Biden administration’s rules, which require employers to mandate vaccines or testing for the workers, are too broad.

Driving the news: The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has said employers with more than 100 workers must require their workers to either get vaccinated or tested every week.

  • Business owners and Republican state attorneys general sued to block those rules, and the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in that challenge on Friday.
  • The court’s conservative majority seemed generally uncomfortable with the scope of OSHA’s requirement, questioning whether it should have applied to only certain, high-risk businesses or whether it overstepped the bounds of the agency's authority.

Between the lines: The six conservative justices’ questions left some ambiguity about precisely what the court is likely to say in its ruling.

  • But there did not appear to be five justices who were, on balance, on OSHA’s side.
  • The court has allowed several states’ vaccine mandates to take effect, but the conservative justices who upheld those rules appeared more skeptical of the federal government’s ability to impose similar mandates.

What’s next: The court is also hearing arguments Friday over a separate vaccine requirement, which only applies to health care facilities.

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