Legal experts say vaccine mandates will likely end up before the Supreme Court

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala.– Huntsville attorneys say Biden’s new vaccine requirements, that affect nearly 100 million Americans, will likely be battled in the United States Supreme Court.

President Joe Biden announced new federal vaccine requirements to stop the surging COVID-19 Delta variant.

“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden said in a press conference Thursday.

Biden’s six-part plan to get more Americans vaccinated focused on public health, schools, and the economy.

All employers with 100+ employees must either mandate vaccines or test weekly. That affects about 80 million Americans.

The requirement for large companies will be enacted through a forthcoming rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that carries penalties of $14,000 per violation. The White House did not immediately say when it would take effect but said workers would have sufficient time to get vaccinated. The rule would also require that large companies provide paid time off for vaccination.

Huntsville Attorney and Partner of Mastando & Artrip, LLC, Eric Artrip said there is precedent for mandates like this.

“The federal government has decided to go through the Department of Labor for these mandates and that’s the same department that regulates mandatory minimum wage, time and a half for each hour work above 40 for overtime payment and things like that. Generally speaking, the federal government has the ability to regulate private employers for certain things that are of the matter of public concern, certainly, a global pandemic would qualify,” Artrip told News 19.

Artrip said the mandates could be upheld by the Commerce Clause.

“Which allows congress and by extension, the administrative branch, the opportunity or the obligation in some respects to regulate private industry. Much like the U.S. government mandated Ford motor company to make airplanes in World WII, basically seize the reigns of industrial powers in order to affect the war effort. Right now, being that we are in a global pandemic, the government has exercised its emergency powers to mandate vaccinations for private companies,” Artrip said.

Previously all federal workers and those in health care working at facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid were mandated to be vaccinated. That requirement was extended to all federal contractors earlier Thursday.

“This really, really has an impact on this community,” Huntsville Attorney Mark McDaniel told News 19.

“You’ve got government employees, you’ve got government contractors. You’re going to have people that just say look. ‘I have privacy issues, medical issues, religious issues. I’m not taking it’ boom here we go and the lawsuits are going to start flying,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel said he is confident the issue will end up before the United States Supreme Court, where a final verdict on vaccine mandates will be made.

“Can the president do this? We have a precedent that says yes he can, but we have a United States Supreme Court now that’s different than the United States Supreme Court then. We have to wait for all these cases because I promise you they are coming,” McDaniel said.

Again, the White House did not immediately announce when this would take effect but said workers would have sufficient time to get vaccinated.

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