Virtually all of President Joe Biden’s federal vaccine mandates have been challenged with various lawsuits, and two of them just reached the Supreme Court, not to be tried on the merits but rather to consider only if they should be blocked with injunctions or permitted to take effect.
According to Fox News, oral arguments were heard Thursday in the fast-tracked cases that involved a vaccine/mask-and-test mandate for private businesses, and another aimed at healthcare workers in facilities that accept federal funding.
The first of those mandates is the one issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring all private businesses with more than 100 employees to mandate that all employees either get vaccinated or be subject to weekly testing and to wear a face mask at all times.
The second mandate was issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and it required that all healthcare workers at facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding be fully vaccinated.
SCOTUSblog reported that the arguments regarding the OSHA mandate lasted for about two hours while arguments in the HHS case were finished after about an hour and a half.
Over the course of those dual arguments, it became apparent to some court observers that — while always impossible to fully predict — it looked like a majority of the justices were skeptical of the OSHA mandate while, conversely, were generally approving of the HHS mandate.
In the OSHA case, the main theme that repeatedly came up was “who decides,” in that it was debatable whether OSHA even had the authority to issue the rule that it did and that the whole issue of workplace vaccination requirements either should have been specifically addressed by Congress or better left to the individual states and private businesses to determine.
As for the HHS case, while there was some skepticism from some justices regarding the department’s statutory authority, it nonetheless seemed clear that regulating the vaccination status of healthcare workers was not quite as far of a reach as in the OSHA case.
One aspect of the oral arguments in both cases that became apparent to some court observers was the fact that, when it comes to actual facts about COVID-19 and vaccines, the three liberal justices — Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagen, and Sonia Sotomayor — were not particularly well-versed, but instead repeatedly put forward inaccurate and completely false statements of misinformation, according to the Washington Examiner.
Justice Breyer falsely stated at one point that 750 million Americans — more than twice the nation’s population — had tested positive for COVID-19 in one day. He also falsely stated that the federal vaccine mandates would reduce the COVID-19 case count to zero.
Justice Kagen made the dubious claim that vaccines were the “best way” to combat the pandemic, followed closely by mask mandates, but both of those claims have been disputed by reputable scientists and research studies — and ground truth.
The worst of all, though, was Justice Sotomayor, who falsely claimed that the omicron variant was just as deadly as the delta variant — it’s actually far less severe — and that some 100,000 children had been hospitalized — with many on ventilators — because of COVID-19, when in reality only about 3,000 children have ended up in hospitals with COVID-19, and are usually there for something else entirely unrelated to the virus.