Why Doesn’t the Supreme Court Want Workers to Be As Safe From Covid as They Are?

All Supreme Court justices are vaccinated. Additionally, the court used remote working early on to keep the judges safe and even if they returned to court in person, they still need Covid tests on those who argue before them. It seems that the nine people who can only be removed from power by death are taking the best precautions to stay alive.

Conservative judges are ready to protect themselves from workplace illness, but they are unwilling to extend that protection to American workers. The Supreme Court heard two cases last week that concerned some of the Biden government’s top Covid-19 work safety requirements. In at least one of them, the conservatives, who enjoy the privilege of working in a vaccinated and safe environment, seemed willing to deny others that privilege.

Their hypocrisy would be more shocking if they weren’t Republicans.

The most important case is called National Federation of Independent Business vs. Department of Labor. It looked at Biden’s rule for companies with more than 100 employees, a rule issued by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). Calling the OSHA requirement a “vaccine mandate” is a little inaccurate. In fact, OSHA rules state that employees must be vaccinated or if not vaccinated, they need to be tested and masked or they have to be sent home.

I have said many times that it would be utterly unconstitutional for the government to force people to put something into their bodies against their will. That would be a violation of your rights under the Fourth Amendment. Nobody speaks of compulsory vaccination by any government agency, and anyone who says Biden does is either uninformed or (more) deliberately spreading misinformation.

Instead, the OSHA rule says, “Vax, or get tested and masked, or work from home or find a new job.” It is directly within the government’s authority to establish occupational safety regulations. OSHA can and does regulate air quality in workplaces; it can certainly regulate how much coronavirus a person can spew out on their colleagues.

But the argument that the government has the authority and responsibility to ensure the safety of workers was not good enough for the conservatives in court. This is not necessarily because the Conservative judges have been infected by the anti-Vax stupidity that has taken hold in corners of the country. Again, all judges are vaccinated.

No, the problem for conservatives is the theory that government can protect workers’ rights. All of the conservative judges in the court come from the long republican tradition of anti-working class hatred. They do not believe in increasing the cost of business owners for pedestrian reasons such as workplace safety. These Conservatives have always been against agencies like OSHA and currently believe they have the votes to effectively neutralize the executive branch. As Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern wrote in slate“These judges emerged from a conservative right-wing movement obsessed with wiping out ‘the administrative state’ – the hundreds of federal agencies that actually enforce laws passed by Congress.”


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