Court Blocks OSHA Rule Requiring COVID-19 Vaccinations For Workers

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration, to combat the spread of COVID-19, issued a rule mandating that all employers who have at least 100 employees require that those workers be vaccinated—affecting some 84 million workers nationwide. The rule was enacted under an “emergency temporary standard” process which avoided the typical notice-and-comment procedures for rules. States and private parties challenged the rule and requested that it be stayed pending a ruling on the merits. The Sixth Circuit let the rule go into effect, and the matter was appealed to the Supreme Court. In National Federation of Independent Business v. OSHA, the Court, in a 6-3 per curiam decision, stayed the rule, holding that it went well beyond OSHA’s power to enact broad public health measures like this one, as its powers were limited to workplace safety only. The majority also noted that the was a “lack of historical precedent” for such a broad rule. Justice Gorsuch, joined by Justices Thomas and Alito, filed a concurrence noting that State and local power to regulate public health was “considerable,” while federal power was “limited and divided,” and OSHA’s rule failed to mind that separation of powers. Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan filed a dissent jointly, arguing that the rule fit within OSHA’s power to protect workers from the danger of COVID-19 transmission at the workplace. A link to the decision is here: