President Joe Biden after giving remarks on the administration’s coronavirus response at the White House, July 6, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

The Supreme Court has decided to hear arguments regarding the Biden administration’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for large employers and health-care workers at Medicaid- and Medicare-affiliated facilities.

The Court said it will hear arguments in the expedited cases on January 7, in a brief order released on Wednesday. A number of individuals and organizations have urged the Court to take up the cases of the mandates, which have already been challenged in lower courts.

The Labor Department announced on Saturday that it would delay full enforcement of the employer mandate, originally set to take effect on January 4, because of confusion created by lower court challenges. The Department’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration ordered companies with 100 or more employees to mandate coronavirus vaccines for all workers, with weekly testing for workers who choose not to be vaccinated.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the mandate on Friday in a 2-1 ruling. Judge Jane Stranch, an appointee of former President Obama, wrote in her ruling that “the harm to the Government and the public interest outweighs any irreparable injury to the individual Petitioners who may be subject to a vaccination policy.”

That ruling overturned a Fifth Circuit stay of the mandate.

OSHA “was not . . . intended to authorize a workplace safety administration in the deep recesses of the federal bureaucracy to make sweeping pronouncements on matters of public health,” the court contended.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to uphold the federal vaccine mandate for health-care workers. The mandate by the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services covers all health-care workers at facilities affiliated with Medicare and Medicaid.

“The Secretary of Health and Human Services exercised his express statutory authority to protect the health and safety of Medicare and Medicaid patients by requiring healthcare facilities that choose to participate in those programs to ensure that their staff are vaccinated (subject to medical and religious exemptions),” Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in a December 16 court filing.

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