The Biden administration is formally withdrawing its vaccine and testing mandate for businesses, effective today after the Supreme Court ruled that OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) had exceeded its authority.
According to a court filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, OSHA will be publishing a recission of the mandate today (Wednesday) in The Federal Register, which will make its recission official.
In its filing, OSHA asked the Court to dismiss the challenges to the vaccine mandate as moot. OSHA reasoned that once it rescinded the mandate, there would be nothing left to litigate because the case will have officially come to an end.
The administration had faced dozens of lawsuits from Republican-led states, private businesses, religious groups and national trade associations. The 6th Circuit has jurisdiction over those cases.
“Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly,” the court wrote in an unsigned opinion.
The decision was a major blow to President Joe Biden’s strategy to control the spread of the virus. On September 9, OSHA issued an emergency temporary standard (“ETS”) mandating vaccinations for businesses that employed 100 people or more. In lieu of vaccinations, employers could elect to let unvaccinated employees wear masks and submit to weekly COVID tests. The order would have covered some 80 million private-sector employees.
The ETS was immediately challenged by over 50 lawsuits. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit was chosen at random to hear the suits and voted to let the mandate go into effect. However, 15 applications for a stay were immediately filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, and on January 13, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 to stay the mandate, reasoning that OSHA was not likely to succeed on the merits.
Matt Clark, the President of the Alabama Center for Law and Liberty, was one of the attorneys asking the Supreme Court to stay the mandate. Clark represented FabArc Steel Supply, Inc., an Alabama construction company, and its President Tony Pugh.
“Today, the Biden administration officially raised the white flag of surrender in this case,” Clark said. “Although the Supreme Court stayed the mandate, that was not the end of the case. Technically, OSHA had the chance to have its case tried on the merits. But realizing that it was unlikely to win, the Biden administration today decided to officially surrender.
“OSHA had never before issued an ETS that was this sweeping,” Clark added. “Today marked the end of the greatest attempt of overreach in OSHA’s history.”
Biden has called on businesses to voluntarily implement the requirements.
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