The US Supreme Court delivered a blow to President Joe Biden on Thursday (Friday Manila time), blocking his COVID vaccination-or-testing mandate for employees of large businesses.
At the same time, the nation’s highest court allowed a vaccination mandate for health care workers at facilities receiving federal funding.
Biden said he was “disappointed” in the nine-member court’s decision striking down his mandate for businesses with 100 employees or more to vaccinate or test their workers for COVID-19.
“I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen to block common-sense life-saving requirements for employees at large businesses that were grounded squarely in both science and the law,” Biden said in a statement.
The president welcomed the requirement that health care workers be vaccinated, saying it would affect some 10 million people working at facilities receiving federal funds and will “save lives.”
After months of public appeals to Americans to get vaccinated against COVID, which has killed more than 845,000 people in the United States, Biden announced in September that he was making vaccinations compulsory at large private companies.
Unvaccinated employees would have to present weekly negative tests and wear face masks while at work.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency, gave businesses until February 9 to be in compliance with the rules or face the possibility of fines.
But the Supreme Court’s six conservative justices ruled the mandate would represent a “significant encroachment into the lives—and health—of a vast number of employees.”
“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,” they said.