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Supreme Court will hear challenges to Biden’s vaccine mandates

The president’s vaccine mandates will get a high court audience in January

The Supreme Court agreed to take up challenges to President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates for large companies and health care workers on Monday evening. 

The court consolidated four applications into two cases that will be argued before the justices on Jan. 7. 

Vaccine opponents launched challenges at the president’s vaccine mandates for health care workers and vaccine-or-test mandate for large businesses on the court’s shadow docket. However, the court agreed to hear oral arguments in both cases instead. This is similar to a move the justices made with a Texas abortion case last month. 

Enforced through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the vaccine or test mandate applies to businesses with over 100 employees. It is set to take effect on Jan. 4 — before the court will hear arguments in the case. The mandate was announced in November and has since been granted an injunction by a federal judge which was then reversed by the Sixth Circuit last week

While over a dozen applications were filed to challenge OSHA’s mandate just this week, the court only agreed to hear cases from the National Federation of Independent Business and 27 Republican-led states. 

A Biden rule for health care facilities receiving federal Medicare and Medicaid funds requiring employees to be vaccinated will also be heard on Jan. 7. Missouri led 10 Republican states to sue the government over what it claims was an unconstitutional violation of the states’ sovereignty. The states also claim the mandate will lead to a staff shortage. 

The rule was blocked by a federal judge in November who said the mandate was not authorized by Congress and that it would cause overwhelming costs to enact. 

Meanwhile, the Biden administration claims the mandates will save lives. 

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“The Secretary explained that this vaccination condition was necessary to protect Medicare and Medicaid patients — who are particularly vulnerable — against infection with COVID-19 by staff members who could safely and conscientiously obtain vaccination,” Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in the administration’s brief. “And he stressed that adding the condition in light of the start of the winter season was critical to preventing outbreaks of the kind that had devastated Medicare- and Medicaid-participating facilities earlier in the pandemic.” 

The challenges come as a new variant is ripping through the country causing cases to rapidly rise as the country heads into the winter months. 

Biden addressed opposition to mandates in a speech on Tuesday. 

“I know vaccination requirements are unpopular for many and not even popular for those who are anxious to get them,” Biden said. “My administration has put them in place not to control your life but to save your life and the lives of others.”

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While over a dozen applications were filed to challenge OSHA’s mandate just this week, the court only agreed to hear cases from the National Federation of Independent Business and 27 Republican-led states.

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