The Issue: Why is the Supreme Court hearing challenges to the federal vaccine mandate?
In September, President Biden announced that the federal government would require all Americans who work for private companies with 100 or more employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine mandate or face weekly testing. The Biden Administration is using the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) to impose the vaccine mandate under the guise of workplace safety. By imposing the OSHA vaccine mandate using the rarely-deployed emergency temporary standard (ETS), the Administration is working around the normal notice-and-comment procedures.
The federal vaccine mandate was published in early November. The next day, the Liberty Justice Center and Pelican Center for Public Policy filed a lawsuit, BST Holdings, LLC v. OSHA on behalf of Brandon Trosclair, a Louisiana business owner, and Texas-based employees of a second business adversely affected by the mandate. The challenge asked the Fifth Court of Appeals to overturn the mandate on grounds that it exceeds the authority granted by Congress to OSHA.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Brandon Trosclair’s petition, halting the vaccine mandate pending further court review. Lawsuits were filed in every circuit court of appeal in the country and a consolidation in the Sixth Circuit resulted in the stay being overturned. On Friday, Jan. 7, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering emergency applications to halt the enforcement of the mandate.
The Reason: The OSHA COVID vaccine mandate is illegal
Why are Americans across the country challenging the federal vaccine mandate? The OSHA vaccine mandate is the Biden Administration’s attempt to bypass Congress, the Constitution and state governments to impose requirements on private businesses. Like the CDC’s eviction ban which was struck down by the Supreme Court in fall 2021, the COVID-19 vaccine mandate exceeds OSHA’s legal authority.
The Biden Administration’s argument in favor of using OSHA to implement a national vaccine mandate falls apart quickly:
- The mandate is not related to the workplace: OSHA’s authority is designed to protect against workplace-specific hazards. However, COVID-19 is a danger to society generally. It is likely to spread anywhere people come together, not just the workplace. Thus, the workplace is being used as a pretext for a larger goal: to increase vaccinations everywhere.
- The mandate does not address a “grave danger”: OSHA claims its authority to issue an ETS stating that COVID-19 is a “grave danger,” however OSHA concluded that all workplaces did not face a grave danger earlier in 2021. Additionally, The consequences of COVID-19 depend significantly on the age and the health of the person that obtains the virus. Finally, it took OSHA over eight weeks to finalize its emergency standard. This delay undermines OSHA’s contention that it is addressing a “grave danger.”
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling noted that “The Mandate’s stated impetus—a purported ‘emergency’ that the entire globe has now endured for nearly two years, and which OSHA itself spent nearly two months responding to—is unavailing as well.”
The impact of the Supreme Court vaccine mandate order: The OSHA mandate would hurt Americans
The goal of the federal vaccine mandate is clear and it is not about workplace safety. The goal is to make it uncomfortable and expensive to be unvaccinated and thereby coerce people to get a medical treatment they already made clear they did not want.
In their order, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel stated:
“The Mandate threatens to substantially burden the liberty interests of reluctant individual recipients put to a choice between their job(s) and their jab(s).
If the Supreme Court does not rule against the vaccine mandate, American business owners like Brandon Trosclair will be placed in the horrible, and possibly illegal, position of having to be the holder of their employees’ private health information. And, if they do not want their employees to incur the financial burden of weekly testing, the employer is forced to pay for expensive—and scarce—testing.
Vaccinated employees are forced to share their vaccination status with their employer. Unvaccinated employees may have to pay for expensive and difficult to obtain weekly COVID-19 tests just to keep their jobs — with the added requirement of wearing a mask, even in states without a mask mandate.
Hear what Brandon and his employees say about the impact the vaccine mandate will have on their rights and livelihoods.