The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccination-or-testing mandate for large businesses policy.
This policy, according to the conservative justices, is deemed as an improper imposition on the lives and health of many Americans. However, they also endorsed a separate federal vaccine requirement for healthcare facilities.
In a statement, President Joe Biden said he was "disappointed" with the court's decision in the OSHA case but said a ruling upholding the requirement for health care workers will save lives.
“The lives of patients who seek care in medical facilities, as well as the lives of doctors, nurses, and others who work there," Biden said in a statement. "We will enforce it."
Biden said it now is up to states and employers to decide whether to require workers "to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated."
The court was divided in both cases, centering on pandemic-related federal regulations at a time of escalating coronavirus infections driven by the Omicron variant in a nation that leads the world with more than 845,000 COVID-19 deaths.
By a 6-3 vote, with the three liberal justices-- Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan who were dissenting, the court reasoned that the agency exceeded its authority to regulate workplace safety.
At the same time, the justices voted 5-4 -- with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joining the three liberals -- to allow the Biden administration to require vaccination of health care workers at facilities that treat Medicare and Medicaid patients, subject to religious and medical exemptions.
Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented, joined by Justices Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett.
The court heard arguments last Friday in the legal fight over temporary mandates issued in November by two federal agencies aimed at increasing U.S. vaccination rates and making workplaces and healthcare settings safer.
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