The Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s emergency rule that would have forced large employers to vaccinate or regularly test their employees.
The decision, delivered Thursday, is a major victory for the mandate’s critics, including The Daily Wire which sued the Biden administration in November. The Daily Wire and others appealed to the Supreme Court to block the order after the Sixth Circuit lifted a stay put in place by the Fifth Circuit.
“OSHA’s COVID–19 Vaccination and Testing; Emergency Temporary Standard, 86 Fed. Reg. 61402, is stayed pending disposition of the applicants’ petitions for review in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and disposition of the applicants’ petitions for writs of certiorari, if such writs are timely sought. Should the petitions for writs of certiorari be denied, this order shall terminate automatically. In the event the petitions for writs of certiorari are granted, the order shall terminate upon the sending down of the judgment of this Court,” the court concluded in a 6-3 decision.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published an emergency temporary standard on November 4 ordering all companies with at least 100 employees to ensure that all their workers are either vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly for the illness. States, private companies, and others immediately challenged the rule in a flurry of lawsuits.
The Daily Wire was the first to sue the Biden administration in the Sixth Circuit.
The Supreme Court choosing to hear oral arguments over a stay in a case is rare, the last time coming over a half-century ago in 1970 in the case of Citizens to Preserve Overton Park v. Volpe. During Friday’s arguments, most of the justices appeared to lean critical of the rule.
Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Gorsuch suggested the pandemic would best be handled by the states or Congress. Justices Amy Coney Barrett critiqued the broadness of the mandate. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, given the economic and political stakes, posited that the governing statute did not provide clear authority for such a broad mandate.
The court’s progressive justices appeared more amenable to the rule, though in several cases cited false data about COVID-19 and its variants in making their points. Justice Sonia Sotomayor made at least a couple of dubious statements, claiming that 100,000 children in the U.S. are currently in “serious condition” because of the virus and that the Omicron variant is just as virulent as the delta. The former is off by multitudes, while the latter is not supported by data.
The Supreme Court’s decision stays President Joe Biden’s order at least until the Sixth Circuit can reach a decision on the case. The Daily Wire was the first in the country to file a lawsuit challenging the mandate, arguing that Biden’s order is illegal on constitutional and administrative grounds. Government attorneys have argued that the order is a necessary emergency measure to protect the unvaccinated from COVID-19.
A Daily Wire petition to voice opposition to the rule has attracted over one million signatures since it launched in November. It hit the one million-signature benchmark last month. As The Daily Wire reported:
The Daily Wire’s “Do Not Comply” petition against President Joe Biden’s vaccine order for private employers hit one million signatures on Thursday morning. …
The Daily Wire launched the petition shortly after suing the Biden administration on November 4, the same day that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published roughly 500 pages-worth of rules and guidance on Biden’s vaccine order. The Daily Wire followed up OSHA’s rule just hours later with a lawsuit filed in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. After the Sixth Circuit was picked by lottery to consolidate and hear numerous lawsuits over the order, The Daily Wire became the de facto lead in the case.