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AG Derek Schmidt: Supreme Court blocked OSHA mandate, allows healthcare mandate to take effect

Release Date: Jan 13, 2022

TOPEKA – (January 13, 2022) – The U.S. Supreme Court today blocked the Biden administration’s mandate that most private employers with 100 or more employees require their workers to be vaccinated or regularly tested for COVID-19 but also let a separate federal mandate that healthcare workers be vaccinated go into effect, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.

“Today’s rulings are a mixed bag for Kansas,” said Schmidt, who had challenged both mandates together with separate federal mandates covering federal contractors and Head Start childcare programs. “Blocking the illegal OSHA mandate gives welcome relief to thousands of employers and employees throughout our state who now will not lose their jobs because of their healthcare decisions, but the disappointing decision to uphold for now the mandate that healthcare workers be vaccinated is likely to aggravate the shortage of nurses and other healthcare professionals that already is causing serious disruption to the delivery of care throughout our state.”

A 6-3 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court found the OSHA mandate likely to be unlawful and ordered it not be enforced while lawsuits challenging it proceed.

“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 wrote. “Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category.”

A 5-4 majority allowed the healthcare mandate, which until now had been blocked by a lower-court injunction, to go into effect while legal challenges to it proceed. Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch and Barrett would have blocked the mandate.

Schmidt said it is unclear what effect today’s mixed ruling will have on separate legal challenges to two other Biden administration mandates. The federal contractor mandate, which applies to entities that receive federal contracts such as research universities and defense contractors, is currently blocked by federal court injunction. So is the separate mandate that applies to Head Start childcare programs.

Schmidt said he will continue to challenge each of these mandates.

“The Biden administration’s one-size-fits-all approach is causing substantial harm in the lives, liberties and livelihoods of many Kansans,” Schmidt said. “We will keep fighting for them.”

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News releases issued prior to 2011 are available through an archive hosted by the Kansas State Library.