Despite the fact that we are in the midst of an unprecedented and deadly pandemic with no signs of abating, the right-wing majority on the Supreme Court appears unlikely to stop the carnage. The reactionary “justices” seem more inclined to shield corporate profits and red states’ rights than to protect the health and safety of the people.
Scientists have achieved near unanimity that vaccines and masking are effective in preventing COVID infections. Nevertheless, the high court is being asked to block Biden administration rules that would mandate vaccines and/or masking and testing. On January 7, the court heard arguments in two sets of cases that will have widespread impact on the health of millions of people in the United States.
The high court is not considering whether to strike down the mandates but rather whether to stop them from going into effect while the lower courts consider their constitutionality, which could take several months. Meanwhile, untold numbers of people are getting sick and dying.
Stephen Breyer noted that the day before the arguments, there were three-quarters of a million new COVID cases. “Can you ask us to say it’s in the public interest in this situation to stop this vaccination rule? … To me, I would find that unbelievable,” Breyer remarked to Scott Keller, attorney for the business associations challenging Biden’s vaccine-or-mask mandate.