During Friday’s oral arguments on the constitutional validity of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, enforced through the federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor probed what the difference between a “human spewing a bloodborne virus” versus a “machine spewing sparks,” is in actuality. Her question alluded to the fact that OSHA has the authority to enforce rules and regulations for workplace safety violations such as electrical and fire hazards. The line of questioning was widely mocked via Twitter for what seems to be a misunderstanding of the science behind COVID-19 and as well as basic human ethics.
As CNN reported, Sotomayor needled Scott Keller, who is representing the National Federation of Independent Business in the case, on several items:
She noted that some states are banning private employers from implementing their own vaccine or mask mandates and said that “Congress has decided to give OSHA the power to regulate workplace safety.”
Why shouldn’t the federal government have a national rule to protect workers, Sotomayor asked.
Later in her questioning, Keller tried to distinguish the vaccine-or-mask rules from OSHA’s ability to regulate that workplaces require masks when machinery is emitting dangerous sparks.”
“Why is a human being not like a machine if it’s spewing bloodborne viruses” when it comes to OSHA’s authority, Sotomayor pushed back.
In response, several Twitter users observed the key difference is that machines are inanimate objects while a human being is a living person with free will.
“Sotomayor sees us as machines with no freedom,” conservative radio host Stacy Washington tweeted. Explains a lot as she’s a command and control leftist.
Sotomayor sees us as machines with no freedom. Explains a lot as she’s a command and control leftist. https://t.co/R16bQJq5dq
— Stacy Washington (@StacyOnTheRight) January 7, 2022
“This is what an Ivy League education gets you,” the populist organization The Bull Moose Project responded. “We’ll pass on the transhumanist horrors, thanks.”
This is what an Ivy League education gets you.
We’ll pass on the transhumanist horrors, thanks. https://t.co/MZpYepT08l
— The Bull Moose Project 🇺🇸 (@BullMooseProj) January 7, 2022
Radiologist and public health policy expert Pradheep Shanker sarcastically tweeted, “Sotomayor logic: “Why is a woman gestating babies not like a machine spewing sparks?”
Sotomayor logic: "Why is a woman gestating babies not like a machine spewing sparks?" https://t.co/wEIC4o5hFH
— Pradheep J. Shanker (@Neoavatara) January 7, 2022
“This is the justice put on the court for her ’empathy,’ [if I recall correctly],” the Washington Examiner’s Seth Mandel noted.
This is the justice put on the court for her 'empathy,' iirc. https://t.co/FAgKFqMnv2
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) January 7, 2022
National Review’s Michael Dougherty stated, “I love the idea that an Executive branch agency meant to protect worker’s rights is now adopting the argument that workers should be regulated like toxic chemicals.”
I love the idea that an Executive branch agency meant to protect worker's rights is now adopting the argument that workers should be regulated like toxic chemicals. https://t.co/9aSoQBMChW
— Michael Brendan Dougherty (@michaelbd) January 7, 2022
SCOTUS is currently hearing the case on an expedited schedule, limiting the argument time to one hour and choosing two representative petitioners to argue. The OSHA mandate is scheduled to go into effect on January 10 with enforcement beginning February 9. It is expected that a decision could come before Monday.