From Fleet Owner.
Judging by their Jan. 7 queries, a majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices sounded skeptical about the federal vaccine-or-test mandate—or “emergency temporary standard” (ETS)—set to take effect today nationwide. Justices questioned the sweeping scope of the ETS, stressing that such measures to battle the COVID-19 pandemic should come from Congress or states individually and not the single federal agency that actually put it out.
“It appears the federal government is going agency by agency because it can’t get Congress to act,” conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch said at one point during the back-and-forth on Jan. 7. “[Such a mandate] might be for the people’s representatives in the states and the halls of Congress.”
The rest of the conservative bloc of justices—Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Amy Coney Barrett—also questioned the scope of the mandate and the power of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to issue it.
OSHA did so on Nov. 5, and since then, the action has been opposed by a wide array of business interests, including trucking groups such as American Trucking Associations (ATA) and state trucking associations, and other stakeholders such as several conservative state attorneys general and religious organizations.
These groups have been petitioners in litigation against the OSHA mandate, which has wound through various appeals courts—some that blocked, or “stayed,” enforcement of it (the conservative Louisiana-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, forcefully, on Nov. 12) and others that let the vaccine-or-test rules go forward (the more moderate 6th U.S. Circuit on Dec. 17 by a narrow 2-1 margin).
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