The Supreme Court of the United States is showing skepticism about the legality of President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates.
The court began hearing arguments on Friday and the Justices are showing signs that they have doubts about the mandates, Axios reported.
“A majority of the justices seemed to believe that the Biden administration’s rules, which require employers to mandate vaccines or testing for the workers, are too broad,” it said in the report.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has said employers with more than 100 workers must require their workers to either get vaccinated or tested every week.
Business owners and Republican state attorneys general sued to block those rules, and the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in that challenge on Friday.
The court’s conservative majority seemed generally uncomfortable with the scope of OSHA’s requirement, questioning whether it should have applied to only certain, high-risk businesses or whether it overstepped the bounds of the agency’s authority.
The Justices have not ruled and asked a variety of questions, but it does not appear that the administration has 5 Justices on the side of OSHA.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Neil Gorsuch appeared to suggest that the government officials had overstepped their authority in issuing the mandates with Justice Roberts saying that it is “hard to argue” that they had the power from Congress to do what they did.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett argued that the mandate’s scope was too broad and asked “when does the emergency end?”
“Two years from now do we have any reason to think that COVID will be gone, or that new variants might not be emerging?” she said.
Justice Clarence Thomas asked the Biden administration attorneys if the only way to fight the pandemic was the vaccine.
“It’s certainly the single most effective way to combat all the issues that Osha has identified,” US solicitor general Elizabeth Prelogar said.
But the liberal Justices appeared to be on board with the administration’s mandates.
“You said we understand that 18- to 29-year-olds, even though they’re not going to die or end up with very serious injuries, they can spread. You don’t doubt that, that they can spread to other people who are more vulnerable?” Justice Elena Kagan said to Ohio solicitor general Ben Flowers.
“That’s right,” the solicitor general said.
“All right,” the Justice said, cutting him off. “Then you say the danger is to other unvaccinated people, older people, immunocompromised people. And you seem to say that the causes to other unvaccinated people, they assume the risk and the agency’s power runs out.”
“We know the best way to prevent spread is for people to get vaccinated,” she said.
Justice Stephen Breyer said he thinks it would be “unbelievable that it would be in the public interest to stop these vaccinations.”
But Justice Samuel Alito argued in favor of a stay to give the court time to consider the case.
“Does the federal government object to our taking a couple of days, maybe, to think about this, to digest the arguments before people start losing jobs?” he said.
Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar said that OSHA “found there is grave harm every day and the numbers are stark,” but the court can take more time if it believes it needs it.
“We think that there are lives being lost every day,” she said, arguing that keeping the mandate on hold “will likely result in hundreds or thousands of deaths and serious illnesses from COVID-19 that could otherwise be prevented.”