Did the federal government overreach when it issued emergency rules forcing employers to impose vaccine mandates? The United States Supreme Court will take up that important question today when it examines emergency COVID-19 vaccine rules issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The Supreme Court will conduct two hours of oral argument today pitting representatives of the Biden administration against states and trade groups who are challenging the federal COVID-19 vaccination rules. One of the key issues with regard to the OSHA rule will be whether the circumstances involve “grave danger” significant enough to allow OSHA to impose the rules without first seeking public feedback. With regard to the CMS rule, the issues will include whether the agency exceeded its statutory authority and whether the agency should have conducted a public notice-and-comment period before issuing the rule.
The Supreme Court will address the OSHA and CMS rules separately, which means that it could allow both to take effect, it could block both, or it could allow one to take effect while blocking the other. Regardless, employers in all sectors will be anxiously awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision, since certain of the emergency rules could take effect as soon as Monday, January 10.
Notably, all nine Supreme Court justices are reported to be fully vaccinated and boosted.
We will continue to monitor this situation. If you have questions about this or other Labor and Employment issues, contact Brian Kelly or another member of the Frantz Ward Labor and Employment Practice Group.