Supreme Court weighs Biden’s vaccine mandate, COVID testing rules affect more than 80 million

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court is working on two major efforts by the Biden administration to boost the nation’s vaccination rates against COVID-19 at a time when coronavirus cases have spiked due to the omicron variant.

Judges in the conservative court are hearing arguments Friday over whether to allow the administration to enforce the vaccine or testing requirement that applies to large employers and regulation of separate vaccines for most health care workers or not. The debates are expected to last at least two hours.

Legal challenges to policies from states and Republican-led business groups are in the early stages, but the results in the high court will probably decide the fate of vaccine claims. Xin affects more than 80 million people.

“I think effectively what is at stake is whether these mandates will come into effect,” said Sean Marotta, an attorney in Washington whose clients include the American Hospital Association. The trade group is not involved in Supreme Court cases.

Opponents argue that vaccine regulations are beyond the authority of the administration, but Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar, the administration’s top lawyer, has written that both are necessary. to avoid unnecessary hospitalization and death.

“Keeping the job of vaccinating healthcare workers on hold” will likely lead to hundreds or thousands of deaths and potentially preventable serious illnesses from COVID-19,” Prelogar wrote.

Nearly 207 million Americans, 62.3% of the population, are fully vaccinated and more than a third of the country has had booster shots, including nine judges.

Andy Slavitt, a former Biden administration adviser on COVID-19, said the vaccine requirements are extremely effective for 15% to 20% of Americans “don’t want to get vaccinated, but they will and don’t have any. period. protest hard.”

The Supreme Court will weigh in on vaccine regulatory policies for the first time, though judges have rejected a proposal to block state mandates.

But a conservative majority concerned about excessive federal outreach ended the federal eviction moratorium in place because of the pandemic.

Three conservatives, Chief Justice John Roberts and Judges Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, may hold the key to the outcome, Marotta said.

They broke with other judges on state mandates for health care workers, but joined them to allow evictions to continue.

Rivals say both vaccine regulations will exacerbate labor shortages and cost businesses. “People are going to quit their jobs,” said Karen Harned, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business’s Small Business Legal Center.

Her group is among those challenging an emergency rule passed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which requires workers at businesses with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated or tested. weekly and wear a mask when working. The rule has exceptions for people who work alone or mostly outdoors.

The OSHA rule is expected to go into effect on Monday, although the agency has said it will not impose fines on businesses that fail to comply before the end of February.

For its part, the vaccine regulation applies to almost all health workers in the country. It includes healthcare providers that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding, potentially affecting 76,000 healthcare facilities as well as healthcare providers in the United States. home. The rule has medical and religious exemptions.

Decisions by the federal appeals courts in New Orleans and St. Louis blocked proxies in about half of the states. The administration said it was taking steps to enforce it for the rest.

Both cases were brought to court in an emergency, and the court took the unusual step of scheduling arguments instead of simply ruling based on summaries submitted by the parties. Unlike other cases that courts hear, decisions from judges can be made in weeks if not days.

Because of the pandemic, judges will hear cases in a non-public courtroom. Only the judges, attorneys involved in the case, court staff and journalists were present. However, the public can hear it live, a change made earlier in the pandemic when judges for nearly 19 months heard cases by phone.

Copyright © 2022 of the Associated Press. Copyright Registered. Supreme Court weighs Biden’s vaccine mandate, COVID testing rules affect more than 80 million

Dais Johnston

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