Supreme Court to Decide Legality of Vaccine Mandates in the Workplace

Washington, DC, January 7, 2022-The Supreme Court will hold a special session on January 7 to consider whether the Biden administration can enforce vaccine-and-testing rules for large private employers and a vaccine mandate for most healthcare workers, reports the Wall Street Journal.

“The issues come to the court on an emergency basis during a record increase in U.S. Covid-19 infections. In a departure from its usual procedures, the court is hearing arguments on cases that haven’t been fully aired in lower courts.

“Technically, the justices-all of whom, according to a court spokeswoman, are fully vaccinated and have received booster shots-don’t have to issue a definitive decision on whether the administration’s vaccine rules are lawful. Instead, they are considering whether President Biden’s team can implement them now while more detailed litigation continues. The cases, however, will require the justices to assess whether the White House has credible claims that it stayed within legal boundaries as it has sought to use longstanding laws to implement aggressive rules in the name of public health.

“The answer is likely to decide the fate of the administration’s current approach to a virus that has killed more than 800,000 Americans and infected more than 50 million. Moreover, the court’s decisions could reset the public-health playbook for years to come.

“The Supreme Court’s conservative majority is skeptical of broad claims of federal power and has been considering arguments for reining it in, said Michael Greenberger, a law professor and director of the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland.

“But with the vaccine cases, the justices ‘are walking into the jaws of the pandemic,’ he said. ‘And there may be enough justices who would worry that pulling back [the mandates] in the middle of the pandemic is a dangerous thing to do.’”