Supreme Court rejects challenge to Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court opened up its latest term with a bang.

The Daily Caller reports that the justices have decided not to hear a key challenge to President Joe Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate for healthcare workers who work at facilities that receive federal funding. 

Background

The reader may remember that, in November 2021, Biden issued two significant COVID vaccine mandates.

One was a vaccine-or-test type mandate for large employers, i.e. employers with more than 100 employees. And, the other mandate was the one mentioned above, for healthcare workers who work at facilities that receive federal funding through Medicare and Medicaid.

The mandates were challenged, and injunctions were sought to prevent them from being implemented while litigation concerning their legality played out. The Supreme Court justices, in January, blocked Biden’s vaccine mandate for large employers, which caused the Biden administration to simply withdraw the mandate altogether.

The justices, however, by a vote of 5 to 4, allowed the healthcare worker mandate to continue amid ongoing legal challenges.

The latest lawsuit

The challenge to Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate for healthcare workers comes from a group of 10 Republican-led states. Led by Missouri, the states included Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

The 10 states recently appealed to the Supreme Court, according to Reuters, “after a lower court declined to immediately consider their claims that the vaccine rule violates federal administrative law and tramples over powers reserved for the states under the U.S. Constitution.”

The justice of the Supreme Court have now decided not to hear this appeal.

SCOTUS’s decision

In an unsigned opinion, the justices wrote:

The challenges posed by a global pandemic do not allow a federal agency to exercise power that Congress has not conferred upon it. At the same time, such unprecedented circumstances provide no grounds for limiting the exercise of authorities the agency has long been recognized to have.

The Supreme Court said that the “latter principle governs” here. Justice Clarence Thomas was among those who disagreed with the court’s decision, arguing that the Biden administration has not shown that Congress gave it the authority “to force healthcare workers, by coercing their employers, to undergo a medical procedure they do not want and cannot undo.”

Why the Biden administration insists on these mandates is unclear given what we now know about COVID vaccines and given the current state of the COVID pandemic. Fox News reports that the healthcare workers mandate, which does allow for medical and religious exemptions, “affects 10.4 million workers at 76,000 health care facilities as well as home health care providers.”