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Alabama officials react to SCOTUS halt of COVID vaccine mandate on businesses

Alabama has been at the forefront of legal challenges to a host of federal mandates aimed at...
Alabama has been at the forefront of legal challenges to a host of federal mandates aimed at slowing the pandemic’s spread, claiming many of the actions are unconstitutional overreach by the federal government.
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 3:47 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama officials are reacting to Thursday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate that requires employees of large businesses to get a vaccine or test regularly and wear a mask on the job.

Simultaneously, the high court announced it will allow the administration’s vaccine mandate for most health care workers in the U.S. to move forward.

Alabama has been at the forefront of legal challenges to a host of federal mandates aimed at slowing the pandemic’s spread, claiming many of the actions are unconstitutional overreach by the federal government.

Here’s how some of the state’s officials reacted to Thursday’s decisions.

Attorney General Steve Marshall

“I applaud the U.S. Supreme Court’s stay of Biden’s private-employer vaccine mandate, which affects the greatest number of Americans,” said Attorney General Marshall. “This is a win for the Constitution over the most overreaching of Biden’s unlawful, unconstitutional, and un-American mandates, which sought to force some 80 million employees to submit to vaccinations or lose their jobs. As I noted when Alabama filed its legal challenge to the private-employer vaccine mandate, not only is this mandate based on a faulty public health premise—that workplace immunization will stop the spread of COVID-19—but it is based on an utterly flawed legal premise as well.

“As the Supreme Court majority opinion stated succinctly: ‘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 private-employer vaccine mandate] certainly falls in the latter category.’

“I am, however, greatly disappointed with the Court’s decision regarding the Biden administration’s healthcare-worker vaccine mandate. As with the private-employer vaccine mandate, the healthcare-worker vaccine mandate far exceeded any power Congress gave the administration, and the mandate will cause many frontline healthcare workers to find new work, precisely at a moment when hospitals around the country are struggling to find doctors and nurses. By allowing this vaccine mandate to continue, the Court has further empowered the federal administrative state, eroded state sovereignty, and likely guaranteed worse health outcomes in Alabama and beyond, as overburdened healthcare workers are stretched thinner still.

“As Justice Alito, joined by Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, and Barrett, explained in dissent: ‘Today’s decision will ripple through administrative agencies’ future decision making. The Executive Branch already touches nearly every aspect of Americans’ lives. . . . Neither CMS nor the Court articulates a limiting principle for why, after an unexplained and unjustified delay, an agency can regulate first and listen later, and then put more than 10 million healthcare workers to the choice of their jobs or an irreversible medical treatment.’”

Gov. Kay Ivey

“During my state of the state address earlier this week, I reaffirmed my commitment to fighting back against D.C. overreach and calling out their political games and nonsense when I see it. Ever since the White House rolled out their scare tactic plans to try to force the COVID-19 vaccine on Americans, I assured the people of Alabama that we were standing firmly against it.

“I said that we would win this battle in the courts, which is why I supported Alabama taking legal action against the Biden Administration’s failed attempt to mandate this vaccine. Today, the Supreme Court gave us a major victory by stopping OSHA’s vaccine mandate for large employers from going into effect.

“However, I completely disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision to let the mandate on health care workers move forward. At a time when hospitals around the country are experiencing shortages and burnout in staff, why would they then run more off with an overreaching mandate by the president? I do not believe the White House is equipped to tell health care professionals they know better when it comes to medical advice.”

U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R, Alabama

U.S. Rep. Barry Moore, R, District 2

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R, District 3

U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer, R, District 6

Palmer further added:

“This decision from the Supreme Court is a huge win for limited government and individual liberty. A person’s right to make their own health decisions does not disappear during a pandemic. This OSHA mandate was an egregious example of government overreach. No one should be compelled by law or burdensome regulation to receive a vaccine that they do not want, for whatever deeply held reason. The concurring opinion of the Court confirms the concerns a number of my colleagues and I raised in a letter to OSHA a few months ago. OSHA simply does not have the authority to mandate individuals to act against their personal beliefs and undergo forced vaccinations. As the opinion states: ‘[OSHA would have] almost unlimited discretion—and [there would be] no “specific restrictions” that … “fully constrai[n]” the agency.’”

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