- The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in two cases challenging the Biden administration’s COVID vaccination and testing requirements for private businesses and health care workers.
- President Biden issued the mandate before the first identification of the Omicron variant, which has since led to record infection rates nationwide.
- The debate has centered on whether the federal government has the authority to implement comprehensive public health measures.
The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on Friday in two cases challenging the Biden administration’s COVID vaccination and testing requirements for private businesses and health care workers.
The debate is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET.
The debate, which focuses on whether the federal government has the authority to enforce broader public health requirements, comes to the High Court as the worldwide pandemic enters its third year.
Those challenging the rules include business unions, Republican-led states, and religious groups.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rule, which requires workers to be vaccinated or tested for COVID on a weekly basis, applies to companies with 100 or more employees. The Department of Health and Human Services rule would require vaccinations for health care workers in facilities that treat Medicare and Medicaid patients.
According to the White House, the two mandates cover nearly 100 million Americans — nearly two-thirds of all American workers.
President Joe Biden issued The mandate in early November, weeks before the highly permeable Omicron variant was first identified, took infection rates nationwide to new highs.
A few days later, after the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit barred businesses from taking effect, a three-judge panel ruled that its requirements were “shockingly overbroad”.
But another federal appeals court reinstated the rule in December, ruling that OSHA has historically had wide latitude to implement safeguards, highlighting the danger to workers posed by the pandemic.
Health experts say early data suggests omicron infections are less severe than prior iterations of the coronavirus, although vaccination is an effective defense against hospitalization and death.
All nine judges of the Supreme Court have been vaccinated against COVID, and all have received booster shots. The court, for the first time in its history amid the pandemic, has heard arguments for livestreaming audio of the proceedings remotely. He returned to the debate in person last October, keeping the building. closed to the public and implementing other pandemic-related safeguards.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.