Court blocks OSHA Vaccine Requirement

by the Alaska Department of Law

The U.S. Supreme Court today (January 13th, 2022) blocked a Biden Administration regulation that would force 84 million American workers to be vaccinated for COVID-19 or face weekly testing. Alaska and a coalition of other states had sued the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which had been tasked with enforcing the nationwide mandate on private businesses with more than 100 employees.

The high court ruled that the legal challenge by Alaska and other states is likely to succeed in court, putting in place an injunction that suspends the OSHA vaccine requirement while the lawsuit proceeds through the judicial system.

In another decision, the Supreme Court decided 5-4 to allow the federal government to move forward with a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) mandate applies to most employees in healthcare settings that receive federal Medicaid and Medicare funding. Alaska and other states had asked the Supreme Court to block the CMS mandate during litigation.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to block the OSHA vaccine mandate is a huge victory for individual, business and states’ rights,” said Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy. “OSHA was exceeding its authority and the Supreme Court made the right call in the end. We hope that they view the other unconstitutional mandates in the same light. With that said, the State of Alaska will continue to make available vaccines, therapeutics and information for individuals to chart their own health decisions.”

Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor joined nine other states in November in suing the Biden Administration over the CMS healthcare mandate. The same month, Alaska and 10 other states filed suit to stop the OSHA private employer mandate.

Attorney General Taylor and the State of Alaska are also seeking to block federally mandated vaccine requirements for federal contractors and for Head Start employees.

“In its decision today, the Court referred to OSHA mandate as a ‘significant encroachment’ on life and health of millions of Americans, and we continue to believe this intrusion into personal liberties shouldn’t be dictated by the federal government,” Attorney General Taylor said. “It’s unfortunate the Court placed healthcare workers in a different category than other Americans, and the decision not to uphold an injunction and protect the individual freedoms of healthcare workers in Alaska could have a lasting and damaging impact on staffing and patient care at medical facilities across the State.

“However, both these cases now continue at the lower court level, and our goal remains to demonstrate in court that the federal government does not have the authority to impose these overarching mandates.”

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