The situation would honestly be hilarious if it weren’t so bleak.
Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case challenging two Biden administration covid-19 vaccine policies—one for healthcare facilities and one for employers with more than 100 workers. (The large employer rule is technically a weekly testing mandate with an exception for people who are vaccinated, but no one is calling it that.) The rules were announced in September and clarified in early November, before we’d ever heard the words “omicron variant.”
But two of the lawyers challenging the regulations had to make their arguments by phone because, well, they have covid. Reuters reports that Ohio Solicitor General Benjamin Flowers and Louisiana Solicitor General Liz Murrill both tested positive for the virus. Per the court’s own protocols, attorneys must get a PCR test the day before arguments and if they’re positive, they have to participate remotely, which is similar to the workplace rule issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). But Flowers and Murrill are essentially arguing that other people should have to go to work with people who aren’t vaccinated or haven’t been tested. It’s truly something.
Here’s Justice Elena Kagan noting that people can’t control the behaviors of their coworkers outside of work, and those people might expose them to the virus:
Speaking of one’s coworkers, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who has type 1 diabetes and has worn a mask at every argument since the court resumed in-person hearings in October, participated from her chambers today. Of the other eight justices, each one wore a mask for the first time, except for the overly confident guy in your philosophy class, Justice Neil Gorsuch. All of the justices have been vaccinated and boosted, but four of them are over age 65. (Stephen Breyer: Retire, bitch.)
As for the case itself, it doesn’t look good for the Biden administration on the private employer vax-or-test mandate—which OSHA estimated would have led to 23 million more people getting vaccinated—but the court might uphold the rule that healthcare facilities that accept federal funding can require their workforce to be vaxxed.