WASHINGTON — President Biden’s vaccine mandate is now in the hands of the country’s top court.
The Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments Friday morning from a coalition of Republican-led states asking for an immediate stay on the mandate, which is set to take effect Monday.
The mandate requires employees at companies with 100 or more workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing. It also requires hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid to ensure health care workers are vaccinated.
“This case is not about the wisdom of vaccines. This is a question about the law,” said Ohio Attorney General David Yost, who is helping lead the charge against the mandate. “If a crisis is sufficient to ignore the law and the constitution, soon we will have a permanent crisis.”
Yost argued OSHA, which is tasked with implementing one of the policies, does not have the authority to impose the mandate. However, the Biden Administration believes it does.
“OSHA does have emergency authority to make emergency workplace rules for up to six months for employees who are exposed to grave danger from substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful. So President Biden relied on that,” said Ken Katkin, professor of law at NKU Chase College of Law.
Katkin said OSHA found the COVID virus is a substance or agent that is toxic or physically harmful.
“We believe it is not constitutional,” said Steve Stivers, CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
Stivers is against the mandate, which he said will pervert the labor market and cause staffing shortages.
“A lot of our members are very concerned about the uncertainty,” Stivers said. “COVID doesn’t take a break for employers under 100. That is not a scientific line, it is not an epidemiology line. That is a political line.”
The Ohio Chamber estimates about half of the Ohio workforce will be impacted by the mandate. It is encouraging business owners to be prepared for it to take effect Monday. Yost said he is optimistic the SCOTUS will make a ruling before Monday.
“They get the need for a quick answer, or they wouldn’t have scheduled this hearing so quickly,” said Yost.