coronavirus

Supreme Court Will Hear Challenge to Biden Covid Vaccine Mandates

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  • The Supreme Court late Wednesday agreed to hear legal challenges to two of the Biden administration's Covid-19 vaccine mandates for large employers and health-care facilities.
  • The court said that its consideration for requests to stay those mandates would be deferred until oral argument on Jan. 7.

The Supreme Court late Wednesday agreed to hear legal challenges to the Biden administration's Covid-19 vaccine mandates for large employers and health-care facilities.

The court, in an order, said that its consideration for requests to stay those mandates would be deferred until oral argument on Jan. 7.

The Supreme Court consolidated the applications of both challenges, which were considered by Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito, and both will be heard on Jan. 7.

Lower court orders, which allowed the employer mandate and partially allowed the health-care worker mandate, will remain in effect until then.

Late Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration is confident in the legal authority of both policies and that the Justice Department would defend both.

"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," she said in a statement. "At a critical moment for the nation's health, the OSHA vaccination or testing rule ensures that employers are protecting their employees and the CMS health care vaccination requirement ensures that providers are protecting their patients."

Last week the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reinstated the mandate for large businesses, under which employers must require their workers to either get vaccinated or face weekly testing for Covid.

Shortly after the 6th Circuit ruling, the groups challenging the large business rule asked the Supreme Court to review the case.

The group challenging the mandate include 27 states with Republican attorneys general or governors, private businesses, religious groups, and national industry associations such as the National Retail Federation, the American Trucking Associations and the National Federation of Independent Business.

The Biden administration proposed two rules Nov. 4 that together covered more than 100 million U.S. workers. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services required 76,000 health facilities that take Medicare or Medicare payments to ensure their 17 million employees were fully vaccinated.

The Department of Labor also proposed its own rule affecting private employers with 100 or more workers, requiring them to get vaccinated or face weekly Covid testing by Jan. 4.

— CNBC's Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report

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