Jan. 7 (UPI) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday appeared prepared to block the Biden administration from enforcing vaccine rules for employees at large companies amid the quickly spreading Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Conservative-leaning justices indicated they didn’t believe President Joe Biden had the authority to task the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with enforcing the mandate for companies with 100 or more employees citing concern for the safety of workers.
The high court heard arguments in the case for nearly 4 hours Friday, CNN reported.
The New York Times reported that the court appeared likely, however, to allow the mandate to go into force for healthcare workers at facilities that receive funding for Medicare and Medicaid programs.
Conservative Justices John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch said the states were in a better position to issue such mandates, not the federal government. Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh also said the two statutes didn’t clearly authorize OSHA to enforce the mandate. Justice Amy Coney Barrett said the statute targeting large companies was too broad.
Meanwhile, the three liberal justices showed support for the mandate for large companies, as well as healthcare workers.
Challengers had filed more than a dozen requests to the Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court decision supporting the Biden administration.
The court took the expedited hearing for oral arguments on filings by a group of trade associations and the other by a group of states, led by Ohio.
The mandate has been blocked by lower courts in about half of the states.