U.S. Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments on Vaccine Mandate

Justices vary in stances on inoculations and the pandemic; it is unclear when there will be a final ruling.

January 10, 2022

U.S. Supreme Court

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments on two separate legal challenges brought by NACS and multiple states regarding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s vaccine-or-test rule for private employers. The nine justices varied in their opinions on the pandemic and the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, reports the Hill.

Liberal judges say that the vaccine is the only way to curb the COVID-19 virus and end the pandemic, while conservative judges question whether the federal government has the authority to issue a sweeping vaccine mandate.

The special hearing lasted four hours, and it appeared that the conservative-majority justices were leaning toward rejecting the vaccine-or-test requirement for companies with more than 100 workers, but they were open to allowing a mandate for certain health care workers in Medicaid- and Medicare-funded facilities.

It is not clear when the Supreme Court will rule in the cases brought to it, reports CNBC.

NACS recorded a special Convenience Matters podcast last week to highlight what retailers need to know about the high court’s hearing of the case.

Lawsuits were filed in every U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals to challenge OSHA’s vaccine mandate. “The fact that they’re hearing from us in our suit, along with the other business groups, is significant. It gives us a great opportunity to impress upon the nine justices why the particulars of what OSHA has done are a problem … we want vaccines—it would be great if everyone was vaccinated—it’s just not a situation in the country right now where OSHA can wave a magic wand and have us achieve what we all wish were true,” said Doug Kantor, NACS general counsel.

The OSHA rule directs employers with 100 or more workers to require vaccination against COVID-19 or weekly testing. Enforcement was slated to begin today. In late December, the agency in a notice on its website said: “OSHA will not issue citations for noncompliance with any requirements of the ETS before January 10 and will not issue citations for noncompliance with the standard’s testing requirements before February 9, so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard. OSHA will work closely with the regulated community to provide compliance assistance.”