WASHINGTON, D.C., January 7, 2022 – This morning, the Supreme Court held a special session to hear a group of cases challenging President Biden’s vaccine mandates. One set of cases challenges a mandate requiring health care professionals to be vaccinated if they work at a facility that accepts Medicare or Medicaid. The other set challenges a mandate that workers must be vaccinated or regularly tested if they work somewhere with more than 100 employees.
The Supreme Court’s own rules to protect against COVID and the specific circumstances of the hearing cast the oral arguments in an incredibly ironic light. All nine justices are vaccinated and boosted, and Justice Sotomayor participated remotely. Courtroom access remains limited and not open to the public. All attorneys must be tested before oral arguments, and two of the six attorneys at today’s hearing participated remotely because they tested positive.
Nevertheless, the Court’s conservatives suggested their willingness to hamstring the government’s ability to protect millions of workers from a pandemic that has killed over 830,000 people across the U.S. In the past, each of the Republican-appointed justices has supported weakening access to affordable health care and each has sided with the wealthy and powerful over workers and consumers. Questions today further suggested that the Republican appointed justices — not health care experts — are willing to second-guess agency experts and constrain the ability of the American people, through their elected officials, to protect our health and safety.
Alliance for Justice President Rakim H.D. Brooks issued the following statement:
“Today, the Supreme Court’s conservatives expressed a willingness to endanger the health of tens of millions of workers. In the midst of a pandemic that has already killed over 830,000 people, these justices want to strip the government’s experts of their authority to institute important protections. The stakes for everyday Americans could not be higher. Not only would a decision against the administration threaten people’s very health or lives, but it would also be an attack on our government’s ability to act in countless areas, including the ability to protect consumers, ensure civil rights, and maintain clean air and water standards.
“Rather than defer to the experts charged by Congress with ensuring our health and safety, the Court’s conservatives appear hellbent on seizing power for themselves to dictate their desired policy outcomes to the American people. We will wait for the outcome of the case as we must, but the American people and Congress should be prepared to take matters into our own hands to save lives and livelihoods.”