Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has blocked implementation of President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccination mandate on businesses, West Coast leaders are demanding that the federal government formally rescind the mandates.
Idaho leaders are calling on the the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to uphold state sovereignty and permanently withdraw its regulation.
In a letter to the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Governor Brad Little, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, House Speaker Scott Bedke, and Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder asserted that the rule “because it violates the 10th Amendment, it unnecessarily invades the province of the State of Idaho as it tailors it COVID-19 response to the specific needs of its citizens and businesses, and no congressional authorization for this rule has been advanced or identified.”
Related: Supreme Court blocks vaccine mandate
In November, under Biden’s direction, OSHA announced plans to issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS) that required employers with 100 or more employees to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing for all employees with minimal exceptions. At least 27 states, including Arizona, filed lawsuits challenging the rule.
One day after the employer mandate became effective, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay of the requirement citing constitutional issues raised. The court later issued a scathing criticism of the rule saying OSHA didn’t have the authority to issue such an expansive and forceful requirement. Less than two weeks after being issued, OSHA suspended their requirement.
In December, following consolidation of all of the challenges across the nation, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the 5th Circuit’s stay of the requirement, meaning it was enforceable again. Dozens of petitioners filed applications with the U.S. Supreme Court to enjoin the 6th Circuit’s decision. On January 7, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the stay on the requirements.
A win for workers
The court allowed the administration to continue its vaccine mandate for health care workers. Still, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey called the Supreme Court's decision a win for hard-working employees.
Employers in Arizona and throughout the nation have been operating their businesses since March of 2020 and throughout the pandemic," Ducey said. "They were innovative and, without government direction, implemented precautions to take care of their workers. But, President Biden thought he knew better and instead used a federal agency to implement unlawful regulations that actually regulate employee conduct rather than workplaces.
“In Arizona, we’ve said from the start that the federal government’s attempt to force private employers to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for their employees is a dangerous display of federal overreach," he said. "The purpose of OSHA is to ensure the workplace is a safe and healthy environment for workers — not to put private businesses in a position where they must force their valued employees to give up their individual liberties.
“We continue to encourage all Arizonans to get the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s safe, effective and free, and has been granted full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, it isn’t mandatory and an administrative agency should not be permitted to exceed their authority even in a public health emergency.”
A U.S. judge in Texas issued a nationwide injunction on Jan. 21 barring the federal government from enforcing a requirement that more than 3.5 million federal workers without qualifying medical or religious exemptions be vaccinated, CBS News reported.