SCOTUS Blocks Biden’s Vax Mandate Delivering Victory to Trucking Stakeholders
Washington D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has blocked President Biden from enforcing his vaccination-or-testing mandate on large private businesses.
In a 30-page opinion, SCOTUS said the dozens of business groups — including multiple national and state trucking associations — which filed suit to halt the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) controversial emergency temporary standard (ETS) were “likely to prevail,” thus the Court granted an emergency request to halt enforcement.
Trucking stakeholders argued OSHA exceeded its statutory authority in issuing the ETS.
The Federal Government argued OSHA exercised “emergency powers” the Agency was granted in the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act.
In a 6-3 ruling, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, writing for the majority, pointed out that before the COVID-19 pandemic OSHA had only used its power to issue an ETS on nine occasions, resulting in six legal battles to which only one ETS was upheld in full.
In trucking’s case, the Court described this ETS as a “significant encroachment into the lives — and health — of a vast number of employees.”
Further, SCOTUS took specific exceptions with the broad nature of the mandate regardless of industry or exact working environments.
“The regulation otherwise operates as a blunt instrument,” Kavanaugh wrote. “It draws no distinctions based on industry or risk of exposure to COVID–19.”
The majority also said allowing the ETS to stand would grant unprecedented power to OSHA which it does not constitutionally have.
“Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life — simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock — would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization,” Kavanaugh said.
Justices Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas also weighed in offering a concurring opinion.
“OSHA claims the power to force 84 million Americans to receive a vaccine or undergo regular testing. By any measure, that is a claim of power to resolve a question of vast national significance. Yet Congress has nowhere clearly assigned so much power to OSHA,” the concurring opinion states.
In a dissenting opinion, Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer argued the ETS falls squarely within OSHA’s mission and authority citing OSHA’s estimate the ETS will save 6,500 lives.
“In our view, the Court’s order seriously misapplies the applicable legal standards,” the dissenting justices said. “And in so doing, it stymies the Federal Government’s ability to counter the unparalleled threat that COVID–19 poses to our Nation’s workers.”
The case is being sent back to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals — which late last year upheld the ETS – for disposition of the applicants’ petitions for writs of certiorari.
Today’s decision also makes newly issued guidance from OSHA pertaining to which truckers are and are not exempted effectively irrelevant.
TransportationNation.com will have reaction from around the trucking industry to this breaking story.