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Supreme Court to hear challenges to vaccine mandates in early January
The Supreme Court will hear legal challenges to the Biden administration's employer vaccine mandates next month, the justices announced Wednesday night, setting a rapid schedule for the cases.
In a pair of orders issued Wednesday, the court said it would hear oral arguments on Jan. 7 over President Biden's vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers and a regulation from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requiring vaccines for health care workers.
In scheduling the accelerated timeline for the cases, the Supreme Court deferred ruling on whether to block the new rules until after hearing the challenges.
Both are set to go into effect in January.
Lower courts have split over both rules, prompting a sense of urgency for the Supreme Court to intervene.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a rule last month requiring companies with more than 100 employees to mandate that their workers either receive a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo regular testing and take other measures to combat the spread of the virus.
The CMS rule requires virtually every health care worker in the country to be vaccinated.
Each of the new regulations has prompted an array of challenges, which will be consolidated during oral arguments next month.
The announcement comes as reported COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing across the country, though recent cases thought to be associated with the omicron variant have so far been milder than previous iterations of the virus, according to preliminary studies.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Wednesday night the administration is "confident in the legal authority" of the requirements and the Department of Justice will "vigorously defend" the measures.
"Especially as the US faces the highly transmissible Omicron variant, it is critical to protect workers with vaccination requirements and testing protocols that are urgently needed," Psaki said.
[Source: By Harper Neidig, The Hill, Washington, 22Dec21]
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