WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Supreme Court is expected to consider requests by representatives of the Republican state and business groups on Friday to block President Biden’s vaccination mandate for employers of more than 100 workers and a similar demand for them. healthcare facilities at a time of sharp increase in Covid-19 cases across the country.
The nine judges were scheduled to hear at least two hours of argument starting at 10 a.m. EST in two cases that present a test of presidential credentials to fight a public health crisis that has left more than 830,000 dead in the United States.
Judge Sotomayor chose to participate in oral argument from her office, and two trial attorneys, the Solicitors General of Ohio and Louisiana, will also participate remotely by phone, a court spokesperson said.
The judges spent most of the pandemic working remotely, but returned to arguments in person in October. All nine are fully vaccinated, the court said. The court remains closed to the public due to the pandemic.
The White House said the two temporary terms would save lives and strengthen the U.S. economy by increasing the number of Americans vaccinated by the millions.
The challengers argued that the federal government overstepped its authority by imposing requirements not specifically authorized by Congress and failed to follow proper administrative processes to issue emergency regulations.
The court’s conservative 6-3 majority in the past has shown skepticism of sweeping actions by federal agencies.
Under one of those policies, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration required employees of companies with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly, a policy that applied to more than 80 million people across the country. country.
The state of Ohio and the National Federation of Independent Business are taking the lead in trying to block this mandate. Religious groups, including the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, are among those also challenging the policy in separate cases.
Under the second policy reviewed by the Supreme Court, immunization is required for approximately 10.3 million employees in approximately 76,000 health facilities, including hospitals and nursing homes, who participate in the programs. government Medicare and Medicaid health insurance for the elderly, disabled and the weak. – income from the Americans.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the federal agency responsible for administering the two programs, released the rule. The states of Missouri and Louisiana are leading the proceedings before the judges to obtain an order blocking it.
The Supreme Court has already dealt with several pandemic-related cases and has dismissed religious challenges to the state’s vaccine requirements. Friday’s cases test for the first time the authority of the federal government to issue vaccination warrants.
The court in other pandemic-related cases has supported religious challenges to certain restrictions and ended the federal government’s moratorium on residential evictions, originally imposed under President Trump.
As in many countries, immunization has become a divisive issue in America, with some people adamantly opposed and many Republicans critical of mandates imposed by governments and businesses. The United States and countries around the world are facing an increase in Covid-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
President Biden’s administration calls on judges to lift orders from federal judges in Missouri and Louisiana blocking the tenure of healthcare workers in half of the 50 states as litigation over the merits of the policy continues .
On December 17, the Cincinnati-based 6th United States Court of Appeals lifted an injunction issued by another court that had blocked OSHA’s large business rule, prompting challengers to ask the court supreme to intervene.
Mr. Biden’s administration argues that Congress has given federal agencies wide latitude to require employers to protect Medicare and Medicaid workers and patients from health and safety risks.
Decisions in both cases are expected quickly, with the administration’s compliance deadlines looming.
Image: The United States Supreme Court building in Washington, October 13, 2021. Reuters / Jonathan Ernst / File photo