SCOTUS issues mixed rulings on vaccine requirements

WYOMING – The U.S. Supreme Court’s multiple decisions regarding vaccine requirements initially ordered by President Joe Biden’s administration brought a mix of emotions from Wyoming’s elected officials.

On Thursday, Jan. 13, The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Occupation Safety and Health Administration order that required vaccines or test regulations on private companies that employ over 100 people. The court voted, 6 to 3 along ideological lines, that OSHA exceeded its authority by issuing the requirement.

“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,” the majority said in an unsigned opinion.

The regulation would have applied to 84 million private sector employees to either be tested weekly or to be vaccinated, with the government footing the bill.

Gov. Mark Gordon applauded the court’s decision. He, along with attorney general Bridget Hill, previously joined a lawsuit opposing the vaccine requirement.

“We are delighted that the Supreme Court ruled favorably on our petition regarding OSHA’s authority,” Gordon announced in a statement. “This is a victory for Wyoming businesses and their workers. The court rightfully recognized this action by the Biden Administration for what it was – a blatant example of federal overreach.”

Wyoming’s two senators joined in the praise. U.S. Sen. John Barrasso issued a brief statement, calling the vaccine requirement for private businesses unconstitutional.

“This ruling frees millions of Americans from having to choose between their job and their personal health-care decisions,” Barrasso’s statement read. “Employers will also breathe easier knowing they can focus on growing their business instead of acting as the vaccine police. Stopping this massive government overreach is a victory for all Americans who value the Constitution and their personal freedoms.”

Lummis issued her statement through Twitter, calling the ruling a “huge win.”

“The federal government has no place making far-reaching mandates that put an undue burden on businesses across Wyoming,” she said.

The initial OSHA requirement stated employers that failed to comply with the order would be fined $13,653 for each offense and willful violations would result in a penalty of $136,532.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 5 to 4, to uphold the vaccine requirements for Medicare and Medicaid providers. The court ruled that the requirement for health-care workers justified as long imposed as a condition for health-care providers getting federal funds. In addition, the court ruled regulation on services protecting patients from exposure to other illnesses while in hospitals, nursing facilities, rehabilitation facilities, ambulatory surgical care centers and other similar medical providers was within the scope of a mandated vaccination.

“The rule thus fits neatly within the language of the statute,” the court wrote in an unsigned opinion. “After all, ensuring that providers take steps to avoid transmitting a dangerous virus to their patients is consistent with the fundamental principle of the medial profession: first, do no harm.”

Gov. Gordon said he was disappointed the court saw the requirement for health-care professionals different from its ruling on the OSHA requirement.