Majority of SCOTUS justices appear skeptical of Biden’s workplace vaccine mandate

A majority of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court appear skeptical of the Biden administration’s mandate ordering large companies to require that their employees be either vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested every week.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case on Friday. 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.

According to multiple reports, a majority of the Supreme Court, which currently consists of six justices appointed by Republican presidents and three appointed by Democrats, are skeptical of the mandate — and could even be poised to strike it down.

“This is something the federal government has never done before,” Chief Justice John Roberts said Friday, referring to the mandate.

Other justices expressed even stronger sentiments.

“Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito indicated even more strongly that, in their view, the regulation went too far,” NPR reported.

“They argued that at minimum Congress would have to enact a new statute that specifically authorizes the vaccine-or-test regulation. The chief justice and Justice Amy Coney Barrett appeared less categorical in their approach, but both were clearly skeptical of the regulation,” the outlet added.

Gorsuch, for his part, seemed unconvinced that President Joe Biden’s administration had the authority to unilaterally impose the mandate.

“If there is an ambiguity, why isn’t this a major question that therefore belongs to the people’s representatives in the states and in the halls of Congress?” he asked, according to USA Today.

Thomas, meanwhile, questioned whether the spread of COVID-19 “amounted to the kind of crisis that justified the Occupational Safety and Health Administration using an expedited process issuing an ’emergency temporary standard’ requiring most workplaces with more than 100 workers to enforce a vaccinate-or-mask-and-test mandate,” Politico reported.

“The vaccine’s been around quite some time. COVID’s been around even longer,” Thomas said. “The government could have had notice and comment.”

As multiple outlets pointed out, all three Democrat-appointed justices appeared to be far more sympathetic toward the vaccine mandate.