America’s coronavirus epidemic and a return to normalcy went on the line Friday. The Supreme Court began hearing objections to President Biden’s two landmark vaccination requirements.
It might be the most significant day in American public healthcare in a century. Also, the threat of a new pandemic is real and worse.
The US Supreme Court sustained a smallpox vaccine obligation in 1905. Since then, US health officials have had tremendous power. Vaccinations and food safety are examples.
During the coronavirus outbreak, mayors shut down whole cities.
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear challenges to the Biden administration’s moves to require Covid vaccines or testing at large employers and mandate vaccines for many health care workers.https://t.co/mEY9x1qAgr
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 7, 2022
The Vaccine Mandates
Vaccination requirements have been sustained by the Supreme Court, even ones without religious grounds.
However, that was exclusively for cities and states, not the national government. Now, a very conservative majority may essentially render Biden’s coronavirus approach useless.
The Supreme Court heard two arguments on Friday: OSHA’s vaccinate-or-test rule for large enterprises and a second CMS vaccination mandate for healthcare employees.
Supreme Court Justices Spew 'Shocking' Misinformation During Arguments on Biden's Vaccine Mandate https://t.co/mDi7wI241X
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) January 7, 2022
Of course, Americans can get the viral disease anywhere, especially if a new super-contagious strain keeps spreading. Not everyone spends eight hours a day, five days a week (or more) with outsiders, though. That’s a big workplace danger!
Similarly, hospitals care for our society’s most vulnerable. As we’ve seen since the onset of this epidemic in early 2020, unsafe local hospitals cause unnecessary deaths.
The justices feel these cases are very important. The Supreme Court seldom hears emergency matters.
The court will likely resolve the cases in days or weeks. The hearings come at a critical juncture, as an omicron spike is expected to strain hospitals and medical professionals who are already stretched thin.
The court may decide to divide the verdict, upholding the requirement for healthcare employees, while removing it for corporations.
A judge may argue a two-year epidemic isn’t an emergency under OSHA’s emergency powers.
Leaving the Decision to Professionals
Congress gave OSHA and CMS broad discretion that required flexibility and quick action.
In a historic pandemic, such powers are crucial. Unappointed and lay judges should not rush to replace career specialists and scientific consensus. Voters who disapprove of Congress or President Biden can voice their disapproval at the polls.
Judging from Biden’s low approval ratings, it’s very likely that disapproving voters will make this known during the midterms and during the 2024 presidential race.
It’s true that lawmakers are professionals at politics. Yet, contrary to popular belief, politicians are not authorities on science or healthcare.
It’s legitimate to require health and safety professionals to professionally apply their political advice. The American people are in jeopardy if Congress must personally decide how to attain its aims.
It’s easy to dismiss Friday’s proceedings as legal formalities. However, these formalities are going to have very real and long-lasting impacts on the nation at large.