The U.S. Supreme Court will kick off the new year with a special session Jan. 7 to hear oral arguments regarding President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private employers with 100 or more employees.
The mandate, which would require vaccines or mandatory weekly testing for the unvaccinated, has faced multiple legal challenges since it was announced in October. Opinions in the lower courts to-date have been mixed, with the Fifth and Sixth Circuits issuing conflicting rulings. The mandate has been on hold since Nov. 6, when the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency motion to temporarily stay the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rule’s enforcement.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled Dec. 17 that, contrary to the Fifth Circuit’s opinion, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does have the authority to require such a mandate. The court cited provisions in the Occupational Safety and Health Act that established OSHA that reinforce OSHA’s authority to regulate infectious diseases and viruses. The Sixth Circuit’s ruling remains in place until SCOTUS acts, whenever that may be.
Among those opposing the mandate are the American Trucking Associations, 27 state attorneys general and governors, various business and organizations.
Given the legal wrangling that lies ahead, OSHA said it will not cite companies with failure to comply with vaccination requirements until Jan. 10, 2022, or non-compliance with COVID testing before Feb. 9.