Back in December, the Supreme Court was asked by the state of Mississippi to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision protecting a pregnant person’s right to decide what to do with their body for the last 49 years. Disturbingly, for anyone who thinks that right should be preserved, the conservative justices’ remarks during oral arguments hinted—pretty loudly!—that they are prepared to gut the decision. Brett Kavanaugh indicated he wasn’t concerned with the idea of precedence, which is very much not what he said during his 2018 confirmation hearing. Samuel Alito compared abortion to racial segregation. Neil Gorsuch, among other conservative members of the court, insinuated Roe had been wrongly decided. Amy Coney Barrett suggested abortion doesn’t need to be a legal right because women who don’t want to have a child can simply carry them to term and put them up for adoption, no muss, no fuss. Clarence Thomas has been trying to overturn Roe v. Wade for years.

In other words, the court’s conservatives believe the government has the right to tell a person what to do with their own body. Which is extremely rich given its ruling on vaccine mandates on Thursday!

Per The New York Times:

The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a vaccine-or-testing mandate for large employers, dealing a blow to a key element of the White House’s plan to address the pandemic as cases resulting from the Omicron variant are on the rise…The employer mandate would have required workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or to wear masks and be tested weekly, though employers were not required to pay for the testing. There were exceptions for workers with religious objections and those who do not come into close contact with other people at their jobs, like those who work from home or exclusively outdoors.

The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, had issued the mandate in November, and it applied to more than 84 million workers. The administration estimated that it would cause 22 million people to get vaccinated and prevent 250,000 hospitalizations. At oral arguments at a special session on Friday, members of the court’s conservative majority seemed doubtful that the administration had congressional authorization to impose the requirements.

In its unsigned order blocking the mandate, the court wrote, bizarrely, that while the risks associated with COVID-19 occur in many workplaces, “it is not an occupational hazard in most.” It went on to add, also bizarrely, that OSHA shouldn’t be allowed to require coronavirus vaccines because you can contract the virus anywhere, not just the workplace. “COVID-19 can and does spread at home, in schools, during sporting events, and everywhere else that people gather. That kind of universal risk is no different from the day-to-day dangers that all face from crime, air pollution, or any number of communicable diseases,” the order says. “Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life—simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock—would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.”

In their dissent, the court’s three liberal justices noted that the government must be able to counter “the unparalleled threat” American workers currently face. Of their conservative colleagues’ decision to wade in on the likelihood of someone getting COVID at work, the justices responded, basically, “Bitch, did we miss that time you went to medical school?” writing: “Acting outside of its competence and without legal basis, the Court displaces the judgments of the Government officials given the responsibility to respond to workplace health emergencies.”

In a small glimmer of positive news, the court did decide that the Biden administration can require health care workers at facilities that receive federal money to be vaccinated. But for non-health care workers who now may have to work alongside colleagues refusing to get vaxxed or tested, them’s apparently the breaks.

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