WASHINGTON, Jan 13 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination-or-testing mandate for large businesses – a policy the conservative justices deemed an improper imposition on the lives and health of many Americans – while endorsing a separate federal vaccine requirement for healthcare facilities.
Biden voiced disappointment with the conservative-majority court’s decision to halt his administration’s rule requiring vaccines or weekly COVID-19 tests for employees at businesses with at least 100 employees. Biden said it now is up to states and employers to decide whether to require workers “to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated.”The court was divided in both cases, centering on pandemic-related federal regulations at a time of escalating coronavirus infections driven by the Omicron variant in a nation that leads the world with more than 845,000 COVID-19 deaths.
It ruled 6-3, with the six conservative justices in the majority and three liberal justices dissenting, in blocking the rule involving large businesses – a policy that applied to more than 80 million employees. The court’s majority downplayed the risk COVID-19 specifically poses in the workplace, comparing it instead to “day-to-day” crime and pollution hazards that individuals face everywhere.