A coalition of Republican lawmakers urged the Supreme Court on Thursday to strike down the Biden administration’s mandate that large companies require their employees be either vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested every week.
On Jan. 7, the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in the case. At issue is whether the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has the power to impose such a rule.
After a host of parties sued the Biden administration, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a stay of the mandate. However, that stay was lifted by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
The Department of Labor has signaled it plans to start enforcing the rule on Jan. 10, though “employers acting in good faith” have until Feb. 9 before the administration starts issuing citations, according to a news release from Republicans on the House Committee on Education and Labor.
Not if a group of 183 Republicans — 136 members of the House and 47 senators — have anything to say about it, that is.
On Thursday, they filed an amicus curiae, or friend of the court, brief, with the Supreme Court arguing that Congress never gave OSHA the authority to impose a mandate like this one.
“Congressional members have an interest in the powers they delegate to agencies not being abused—the legislative authority vested in the federal government belongs to Congress, not the Executive branch,” the brief said.
“In this case, the promulgation by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) of a sweeping, nationwide vaccine mandate on businesses intrudes into an area of legislative concern far beyond the authority of the agency. And it does so with a Mandate enacted through OSHA’s seldom-used ‘emergency temporary standard’ (ETS) provision that allows for bypass of notice and comment rulemaking under certain circumstances,” it added.
“That OSHA exceeded its authority in enacting the ETS Mandate is not a ‘particularly hard’ question.”
The brief added that under America’s federalist system of government, local solutions are preferable to top-down mandates from the federal government.
“Moreover, congressional members—as representatives of the people of their States and districts—have an interest in the citizens they represent being able to craft local solutions to problems facing their States and districts,” the members of Congress wrote. “Federalism concerns should be addressed before requiring federally-imposed solutions. And this is especially true when the question at issue involves an area typically reserved to the States (such as vaccine mandates).
“At the least, Congress should be forced to make clear any delegations of authority into areas of State control.”
House Republican Caucus Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York — who is leading the effort alongside House Education and Labor Committee Republican leader Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, House Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, and Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana — said in a statement that the “unconstitutional” mandate will hurt Americans.
I am proud to join @RepRickAllen, @virginiafoxx, @RepJimBanks, and @SenatorBraun in leading 183 of our colleagues in an amicus brief to SCOTUS against the Biden Administration's vaccine mandate on private businesses.https://t.co/bKR6UAkxxI
— Rep. Elise Stefanik (@RepStefanik) December 30, 2021
“The Biden Administration’s unconstitutional vaccine mandate imposes government control into the private, medical lives of millions of American citizens,” she said. “This mandate hurts our nation’s workers, employers, and small businesses and will now rightfully be challenged in the highest court in the land.
“I am proud to lead my colleagues in standing up for the rule of law against the Biden Administration’s unconstitutional vaccine mandate on private workplaces.”