In a 6-3 decision released on January 13, 2022, the Supreme Court struck down the Biden Administration requirement that large businesses force their employees to be vaccinated or get tested for Covid 19 every week. In their unsigned opinion, the Justices stated that the mandate by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) was too broad and affected too many workers without distinguishing the degree of risk of a specific job. That leaves open the possibility that the Court will uphold a more limited mandate on particular types of work. The three liberal justices were upset that the Court was unwilling to support the” federal government’s ability to counter the unparalleled threat that Covid-19 poses to our nation’s workers.” The dissenters went on to write that OSHA was explicitly given the mandate to ensure the safety of workers, and therefore the mandate was appropriate.
In a separate 5-4 decision, the Court allowed the Biden Administration’s mandate for health workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly. Joining the three liberal judges were Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanagh. In another unsigned opinion, the majority stated that having health requirements for institutions that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds fall clearly within the statutory powers of the Health and Human Services Department. Accordingly, they wrote that those institutions (almost all hospitals and nursing facilities) that receive federal funding must comply with the mandate.