Washington — The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday blocked a Biden administration requirement that large employers either mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for employees or require weekly testing.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued the mandate in November. It would have applied to employers with more than 100 employees, impacting about 84 million people. Employees at those businesses would have been required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or wear a mask and submit to weekly testing.
The court upheld 5-4 a similar requirement that workers at health care facilities receiving federal funds — those participating in Medicaid or Medicare — be vaccinated. That ruling impacts about 17 million workers.
The Wisconsin Institute for Liberty and Law, which represented rotomolder Plasticraft Corp. and a metal fabricator, Tankcraft Corp., in a suit against the mandate, cheered the ruling.
"Over the past several weeks, we've heard from numerous businesses and workers all across Wisconsin that OSHA's vaccine-or-test mandate would have a disastrous impact on jobs and individual rights," WILL Deputy Counsel Dan Lennington said in an emailed statement. "We are very pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has stepped in and put this rule on hold."
The Wisconsin case was combined with other legal challenges by the court.
The Biden administration argued the mandates would save lives and prevent hospitalizations.
The ruling comes as COVID-19 cases are spiking in the U.S. The country reported 860,114 new cases Jan. 12.
This story will be updated.