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Supreme Court Blocks OSHA's Vaccine MandateSupreme Court Blocks OSHA's Vaccine Mandate

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court on Thursday reinstated the stay on OSHA's ETS. In its ruling, the Court stated that Congress hasn't given OSHA 'the power to regulate public health more broadly.'

January 13, 2022

3 Min Read
Supreme Court Blocks OSHA's Vaccine Mandate

The Supreme Court on Thursday reinstated the stay on OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard

"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 Supreme Court wrote in its ruling.

"Although COVID– 19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most," the Supreme Court also noted in its ruling. "COVID–19 can and does spread at home, in schools, during sporting events, and everywhere else that people gather."

Justices Stephen Brayer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented. 

"In our view, the Court’s order seriously misapplies the applicable legal standards," they said in a joint statement. "And in so doing, it stymies the Federal Government’s ability to counter the unparalleled threat that COVID–19 poses to our nation’s workers."

Back on Dec. 7, the Biden administration's vaccine mandate for federal contractors was blocked by a federal judge in Georgia. The stay on OSHA's ETS was lifted on Dec. 20 by a panel of judges in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals

Industry response

Associated Builders and Contractors said it applauds the ruling, noting that it filed one of the emergency appeals to the Supreme Court.  

“ABC is pleased that the Supreme Court blocked OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC VP of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “ABC is proud to have played an important role in preventing OSHA from causing irreparable harm to the construction industry.

"This is a big win in removing compliance hurdles for the construction industry, which is facing multiple economic challenges, including a workforce shortage of 430,000rising materials prices and supply chain issues. ABC continues to support vaccinations and encourages members to use its COVID-19 vaccination toolkit to keep workers safe on construction job sites.”

On Nov. 9, ABC and its Alabama chapter filed a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit against the OSHA ETS. ABC filed an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court to stay the ETS on Dec. 20.

Chuck Fowke, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a custom home builder from Tampa, Fla., issued the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 to stay the Biden administration's enforcement of a COVID-19 vaccine or testing mandate for large employers:

"In issuing its decision, the Supreme Court stated that 'OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate' and that Congress has 'declined to enact any measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here.' The Supreme Court ruling shows that OSHA clearly exceeded its authority by attempting to force more than 84 million workers to get COVID-19 vaccinations or compel them to submit to regular testing. NAHB strongly supports the efforts of the federal government to get as many Americans vaccinated as possible and has actively encouraged our members to make vaccines available to their workers. But using OSHA as the primary mechanism for this effort exceeds its statutory authority as a workplace safety agency."

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