The Supreme Court's Vaccine Mandate Decision Was an Opening Shot Against Regulating Anything
You will note that the majority opinion is unsigned.
_By Charles P. Pierce
Jan 14, 2022
washington, dc here on january 6, 2022 in washington, dc one year ago, supporters of president donald trump attacked the us capitol building in an attempt to disrupt a congressional vote to confirm the electoral college win for joe biden
I miss the days when the Supreme Court had an element of suspense and mystery to it. There would be the oral arguments and then six months of silence until Decision Day, when there occasionally would be a surprise twist ending to our Very Special Episode.
As should be obvious to everyone who paid attention during the oral arguments over the president’s vaccine mandates, Thursday’s predictably idiotic decision was a foregone conclusion based on predictably insulting assaults on reason and common sense from the carefully constructed conservative majority.
Step aside from the cheap irony of a Supreme Court with strict COVID precautions in place ruling that public health is not a workplace issue. Step aside from the cheap irony of the winning side’s having been represented by lawyers who appeared virtually because they were carriers.
Step aside even from Justice Neil Gorsuch’s sitting maskless next to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is a diabetic. This was more than an attack on the public health. This was the opening shot against the whole idea of a federal regulatory interest in practically everything.
Look, for example, at this tattered rag of an argument that is central to the majority’s opinion.
The Solicitor General does not dispute that OSHA is limited to regulating “work-related dangers.” Response Brief for OSHA in No. 21A244 etc., p. 45 (OSHA Response). She instead argues that the risk of contracting COVID–19 qualifies as such a danger. We cannot agree. Although COVID– 19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most. COVID–19 can and does spread at home, in schools, during sporting events, and everywhere else that people gather.
This is an open-ended invitation to deny OSHA’s authority to regulate anything. Killed when an unregulated fertilizer plant exploded? Well, your car could have blown up on the way home.
And the idea that OSHA is empowered only to regulate against threats that existed at the time of its creation—which, essentially, is what the majority apparently believes—is so spectacularly crazy that it might distract you from these amazing goddamn sentences.
But a vaccine mandate is strikingly unlike the workplace regulations that OSHA has typically imposed. A vaccination, after all, “cannot be undone at the end of the workday.”
That’s the point, you hacks. That’s the motherfcking point. That’s why you have as many restrictions as you do in your own workplace. Do these obvious space aliens believe that, once an employee leaves the workplace, the employee will turn into a two-headed zombie monster? Wait, don’t answer that.
You will note that the majority opinion is unsigned. Perhaps the second-graders who actually wrote this mess are still unclear as to how to spell their last names. As for the actual justices who declined to attach their names? Well, you get what you pay for.