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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.

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

Ohio Supreme Court strikes down GOP-drawn congressional map

This Ohio congressional district map was invalidated by the state supreme court. Photo courtesy of state legislature

The Ohio Supreme Court has once again struck down a Republican-drawn legislative map for gerrymandering, this time for congressional districts.

Why it matters: Friday's decision invalidates a congressional map approved by Republican lawmakers last November.

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.