Supreme court weighs Biden’s workplace vaccine requirements

Supreme court weighs Biden’s workplace vaccine requirements
Опубликовано: Saturday, 08 January 2022 10:38

The issue in the cases, which challenge rules set in November by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, is not directly whether the rules are legal but whether they can take effect while the cases are heard in detail by courts of appeals. The arguments lasted more than 3½ hours. A decision by the justices is expected within days.

The OSHA rule says that businesses with more than 100 employees must require their workers to either be vaccinated or wear masks and undergo weekly testing. The CMS rule requires that health care workers in facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding be vaccinated, recognizing that they work with vulnerable patients.

Notably, Friday’s arguments were held in a Supreme Court chamber with even stricter anti-COVID rules than those at issue. The court is closed to most members of the public, masks are required for everyone other than the justices, and lawyers and journalists must maintain physical distance and have negative tests. As the omicron variant surges in Washington, D.C., Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who has diabetes, opted to participate remotely from her chambers at the court. Also participating remotely were two of the six lawyers, including Ohio Solicitor General Benjamin Flowers, who tested positive for COVID after having a mild case over the holidays.

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Bill Martin, the Global Therapeutic Area Head of Neuroscience at The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, shared some of the promising developments in the neuroscience space, such as the rise of neuro-immunology and the industry’s embrace of digital health tools to support drug development in a recent interview.

Conservative members of the court pressed lawyers about whether the administration overstepped its authority in issuing the rules, while some of the liberal justices grilled the rules’ opponents on why the government should not move quickly and forcefully when faced with a massive public health issue. But how the justices might rule wasn’t clear from the questions they asked.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wondered why few hospitals or nursing homes are protesting the CMS rule for health care workers. “Where are the regulated parties complaining about this regulation?” he asked the state officials who have sued to block the rule.

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Lawyers for the Biden administration argued that the federal government has ample power to protect worker safety in issuing its rule, which is technically an emergency standard. “This lies in the heartland of OSHA’s regulatory authority,” Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar told the justices.

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