The U.S. Supreme Court is examining the case against President Biden's federal vaccine mandate Friday, which could affect employers nationwide as well as tens of millions of U.S. workers.
A deepening divide over the vaccine mandates that worked their way through the legal system before reaching the high court. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel and Vice President for Legal Strategy Ryan Bangert said the results will set a legal precedent regarding vaccine mandates, present, and future.
"What's at stake is whether or not our federal government can claim vast expansive powers in times of emergency," Bangert said.
Justices will hear arguments on the constitutionality of President Biden's emergency executive order forcing private businesses with 100 or more employees to submit to mandatory vaccinations or face weekly testing.
"The answer to that surely has to be no," said Bangert. "Otherwise, this concept of a limited federal government and enumerated power has really been stretched to the breaking point."
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) first announced how it would enforce the mandate in November, which was immediately challenged in the court. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals froze the mandate and then lifted the stay in December.
As CBN News reported last month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in a special session.
If the court finds that the mandate should be stayed, clients opposed would find protection. That decision would send the case back to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals which is overseeing all consolidated legal challenges to vaccine mandates.
"There's also the possibility that the courts could simply decide the merits of the entire case tomorrow (Friday)," Bangert said. "We just don't know how the court is ultimately going to decide to handle this."
If the mandate is reinstated, businesses not following the rules could face fines of more than $13,000 per violation. The ADF senior counsel said Feb. 9 will be the deadline for full compliance with testing requirements.
Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow Doug Badger tells CBN News, "If the court lets this go forward we will see a big shift in power in the federal government from Congress to the federal bureaucracy."
Badger says the main issue is whether OSHA, an executive branch agency, can make federal law.
"But they can only do things that Congress has empowered them to do. Congress has not empowered OSHA to impose a mandate on businesses with 100 or more employees," he said.
The high court will also weigh in on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services case, demanding roughly 17 million healthcare workers also get vaccinated or submit to testing. "This case poses the same questions – whether or not a federal agency has authority to implement a vaccine mandate, primarily on health care workers," Bangert said.
Other cases pending review, which will not be judged on Friday, include individual state mandates, religious objections to vaccines, and dozens of litigations representing firms, businesses, and religious entities opposed to vaccine mandates. "There are well over a dozen cases pending," said Bangert.
This week, former Vice President Mike Pence's political organization, Advancing American Freedom weighed in on the case; they filed an amicus brief against President Biden's vaccine mandate for businesses.