(The Center Square) – The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments Friday in legal challenges to President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates, which have become the center of controversy and led to a flurry of lawsuits around the country.
The first case, National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, considers a mandate on private employers with at least 100 workers while the second case, Biden v. Missouri, focuses on a mandate for health care workers.
During oral arguments for the first case, opponents argued that states or private businesses, not the federal government, should retain the authority to implement these kinds of mandates. Vaccines work but “who decides” became a common refrain of the discussion over the mandate.
The legal team opposed to the mandate argued testing is not frequently available, making it very difficult for businesses to fulfill the mandate’s testing requirement. The private sector mandate requires all employees be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. They also argued the mandate places a major financial burden on businesses.
Opponents asked for an immediate stay of the mandate requirement, scheduled to go into effect Feb. 9, arguing that as soon as businesses put out their mandatory vaccination plans, workers around the country will quit. They also point out that the mandates go far beyond what Congress identified as high risk workplaces.
The federal government pushed back, arguing that they have the power to implement these rules given the “particularly acute workplace danger” of COVID-19. During arguments, Justice Stephen Breyer brought up the severity of the virus pointing out the infection increases in recent days. Justice Elena Kagan echoed that sentiment, pointing to the severity of the virus.
Kagan also argued that the mandate policy is politically accountable through the president, and that voters can elect a new president to overturn it if they don’t like it.
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