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Supreme Court to Hold Special Hearing on Biden Vaccine Mandates

December 23, 2021 by Dan McCue
Supreme Court to Hold Special Hearing on Biden Vaccine Mandates
U.S. Supreme Court building. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court announced Wednesday night that it will hold a special hearing in January to consider the constitutionality of vaccine mandates imposed by the Biden administration.

Both of the cases the justices will hear on Friday, Jan. 7, involve the administration’s effort to deal with the spread of the coronavirus and its variants in the workplace.

All of the mandate requirements except testing are scheduled to start being enforced by OSHA on Jan. 10, 2022 and testing requirements will begin to be enforced by Feb. 9, 2022.

The decision to hold oral arguments on the cases — National Federation of Independent Businesses, et al. v. Dept. of Labor, OSHA, et al. and Ohio, et al. v. Dept. of Labor, OSHA, et al. — comes after the petitioners asked the high court to stay implementation of the mandates.

The request went to Justice Brett Kavanaugh who then referred the request to the full court. The justices had not been scheduled to return to the bench until the following Monday.

As is their custom, the justices did not explain their rationale for taking up the cases.

Of the two measures at issue in the underlying litigation, the most contentious is an order from the Biden administration that requires businesses with 100 or more employees to either ensure all of their employees are vaccinated or require them to be tested weekly and wear face masks to work.

The order would immediately affect more than 84 million workers, and the administration contends it would likely compel as many as 22 million unvaccinated Americans to get a COVID-19 shot and prevent at least a quarter-million hospitalizations.

The other mandate that the justices will review requires health care workers at hospitals that receive federal money to be vaccinated against the virus. 

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in the winter of 2020, the Supreme Court has upheld most if not all of the state vaccine mandates that have come before it.

The main question in the two new cases is whether the government should be allowed to enforce the policies while litigation challenging them continues. 

But the justices’ decision on whether to grant emergency relief will likely be based on a different question: Whether Congress has authorized the executive branch to institute the requirements.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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