Supreme Court Blocks Biden Administration’s OSHA Mandate – Win for Anti-Mandate Advocates and Employee Rights



Washington, DC—On January 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 6-3 per curiam decision struck down the OSHA mandate requiring businesses with greater than 100 employees to mandate their employees be vaccinated or tested. The court had heard oral arguments on January 7, 2022. 

Today’s ruling strikes down the Biden Administration’s rule, and the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), on the basis that the Secretary of Labor “lacked authority to impose the mandate” and the Applicants are “likely to succeed on the merits of their claim.” Crucial to the decision was the Court’s conclusion that OSHA had gone beyond its scope of authority by issuing a rule that governs “public health” not “workplace safety.” The court stated, “Although COVID-19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most.”

The Court utilized the major questions doctrine. “Administrative agencies are creatures of statute. They accordingly possess only the authority that Congress has provided.” The opinion highlighted that Congress had not clearly authorized the agency “to exercise powers of vast economic and political significance.” 

The majority, comprised of the six conservative justices, emphasized the unprecedented power grab: “It is telling that OSHA, in its half century of existence, has never before adopted a broad public health regulation of this kind—addressing a threat that is untethered, in any causal sense, from the workplace. This ‘lack of historical precedent,’ coupled with the breadth of authority that the Secretary now claims, is a ‘telling indication’ that the mandate extends beyond the agency’s legitimate reach.” 

The Court made clear “COVID–19 can and does spread at home, in schools, during sporting events, and everywhere else that people gather. That kind of universal risk is no different from the day-to-day dangers that all face from crime, air pollution, or any number of communicable diseases. Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life—simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock—would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory.”

The dissent of the liberal justices, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor, took issue with limiting OSHA’s power to the bounds on one’s occupation, “The statute generally charges OSHA with ‘assur[ing] so far as possible … safe and healthful working conditions.’ That provision authorizes regulation to protect employees from all hazards present in the workplace—or, at least, all hazards in part created by conditions there. It does not matter whether those hazards also exist beyond the workplace walls.”

Dr. Simone Gold, founder of AFLDS, physician and attorney, stated, “This is a major win for those who oppose mandates and medical tyranny. The majority placed the power back in the hands of Congress to make such decisions.” AFLDS has been working tirelessly to oppose mandates such as the one opposed at the Supreme Court and ruled on today, including through filing an amicus curiae brief in this case.

Today’s ruling, which affects 84 million Americans, reins in the federal government’s executive branch, and agency power. It is a victory for organizations fighting unlawful mandates. The shock waves should be heard throughout the world. It is another in a line of cases where the Supreme Court has drawn lines, such as Roman Catholic Diocese v. Cuomo and South Bay United Pentacostal Church v. Newsom, limiting the power of the government to mandate by fiat.

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