BREAKING: The Supreme Court BLOCKS the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for large workplaces. The court ALLOWS a vaccine mandate for workers at federally funded health care facilities to take effect nationwide.
— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) January 13, 2022
Well, Governor Hutchinson, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and other Republicans (nearly all of them) who put dollars over people got a partial victory from the Republican-packed U.S. Supreme Court today.
But now a dilemma for Arkansas. Will it obey federal law and insist, a la Faubus, at following state law when it comes to requirements for facilities that receive federal health dollars (virtually all of them).
Remember, the OSHA rule for large workplaces was NOT a vaccine mandate. Employees could opt out if they chose to test weekly instead. Also, the ruling doesn’t overturn privately instituted rules, such as those at Tyson Foods.
The OSHA decision will play hell with all types of government actions in the future unless there is a Republican president that will require ignoring this precedent.
Lots of fallout/reaction to come.
Arkansas challenged both rules. UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Hospital were among facilities that adopted vaccine mandates, then dropped them when a lower court enjoined mandates. The Supreme Court decision today reverses that ruling.
Said the Supreme Court in a 6-3 ruling:
“Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly. Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category.”
“In the face of a still-raging pandemic, this court tells the agency charged with protecting worker safety that it may not do so in all the workplaces needed. As disease and death continue to mount, this court tells the agency that it cannot respond in the most effective way possible. Without legal basis, the court usurps a decision that rightfully belongs to others. It undercuts the capacity of the responsible federal officials, acting well within the scope of their authority, to protect American workers from grave danger.”
I haven’t seen the reasoning yet in which the court upheld the rule for health care workers.
UPDATE: The Supreme Court voted 5-4 with only Clarence Thomas writing the dissent (this is a correction from original list in which I said Thomas was the only dissent) to lift lower court injunctions against the health facility rule. Roberts and Kavanaugh joined the liberals It said in part:
Congress has authorized the Secretary to impose conditions on the receipt of Medicaid and Medicare funds that “the Secretary finds necessary in the interest of the health and safety of individuals who are furnished services.” COVID–19 is a highly contagious, dangerous, and—especially for Medicare and Medicaid patients—deadly disease. The Secretary of Health and Human Services determined that a COVID–19 vaccine mandate will substantially reduce the likelihood that healthcare workers will contract the virus and transmit it to their patients. He accordingly concluded that a vaccine mandate is “necessary to promote and protect patient health and safety” in the face of the ongoing pandemic. The rule thus fits neatly within the language of the statute.
A quick and early response from a spokesman for UAMS, which has more than 10,000 workers and receives tens of millions in federal reimbursements:
We just saw the news reports about this and are reviewing the case information. UAMS needs to follow federal law but we also don’t want to be in violation of state law. We will request a meeting with the Arkansas Legislative Council to discuss.
Also, Attorney General Rutledge cheered her partial victory and continued to lie about the OSHA rule.
“Our win at the U.S. Supreme Court protects employees from being forced to get a shot or lose their job and it allows businesses to keep hardworking employees,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Today, we stopped President Biden’s overreach into the personal health freedoms of the American worker. I will always defend Americans’ freedom against the overreach of a greedy government.”
The rule did NOT force a shot. It forced an employee to get a shot or be tested once a week.
A spokesman for DHS,, which operates health facilities and oversees better than a billion in Medicaid spending, said only: “We are reviewing the SCOTUS decision. Any further comment at this time would need to come from the Governor’s office.”
I’ve asked the governor’s office for comment, but received none as yet,
Update: More mush from the wimp. No mention of critical health care ruling