Trucking Industry in Limbo as SCOTUS Remains Silent on Vax Mandate Case
Washington D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has yet to issue a ruling in trucking stakeholders’ emergency challenge to block enforcement of President Biden’s COVID-19 shot-or-test mandate for private employers.
After hearing oral arguments late last week in a consolidated case brought by dozens of business groups, including the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and multiple state trucking groups, SCOTUS has so far been silent on the matter.
In fact, SCOTUS is not scheduled to issue any opinions until at least Thursday of this week and it’s not at all clear if the Court will weigh in on trucking’s case at that time.
The delay is causing consternation and frustration among many trucking stakeholders given the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) enforcement deadline of portions of its emergency temporary standard (ETS) was Monday, January 10.
OSHA’s controversial ETS forces employers with 100 employees or more to require employees be fully vaccinated or ensure all unvaccinated employees wear a facial covering and provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test each week.
Trucking stakeholders were hopeful SCOTUS would quickly issue a decision to strike down or at least halt the ETS following last week’s hearing considering the Court agreed to hear the case on an emergency basis after the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the mandate late last year.
If businesses are deemed to be in violation of the ETS, penalties could reach up to $136,532 per offense, so the stakes are high.
Additionally, OSHA estimates the cost of compliance for businesses covered by the ETS will be at least $3 billion.
David Heller, vice president of government affairs for the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), which also strongly opposes the ETS, told Transportation Nation Network on Tuesday he was “a little surprised” SCOTUS has not yet issued an opinion given the impact the ETS is expected to have within the trucking industry.
“We do expect an expedient response from the Court, but these decisions do take some time to process” Heller said.
While many trucking stakeholders remain confident SCOTUS will ultimately strike the ETS down in whole or in part, Heller said TCA continues to advise members to make a “good faith” effort to comply until such time.
“At TCA we never take a position of noncompliance which is what good faith is. Carriers do need to show a good faith effort if the mandate does move forward,” he advised.
TransportationNation.com will continue to track the issue closely.