The Supreme Court dealt a massive blow to President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 policy, striking down his massive vaccine mandate on employers while upholding a smaller mandate on healthcare workers — though workers can still opt out of that mandate if they have a religious objection or medical concern.
“OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate. Nor has Congress,” the court’s opinion in NFIB v. OSHA began. “Indeed, although Congress has enacted significant legislation addressing the COVID–19 pandemic, it has declined to enact any measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here.”
“Administrative agencies are creatures of statute. They accordingly possess only the authority that Congress has provided. The Secretary has ordered 84 million Americans to either obtain a COVID–19 vaccine or undergo weekly medical testing at their own expense,” the opinion continued. “This is no everyday exercise of federal power. It is instead a significant encroachment into the lives—and health—of a vast number of employees. We expect Congress to speak clearly when authorizing an agency to exercise powers of vast economic and political significance.”
“The question, then, is whether the Act plainly authorizes the Secretary’s mandate. It does not,” declared the court. “The Act empowers the Secretary to set workplace safety standards, not broad public health measures.”