Jacksonville law expert weighs in as vaccine mandates go back under Supreme Court spotlight

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – President Biden’s vaccine mandates are under the microscope once again, at the highest levels.

In a rare Friday session that included oral arguments, justices considered two cases about Biden’s vaccine mandates.

One concerns the mandate for businesses of 100 people or more. The other regards companies providing medical care aligned with Medicaid and Medicare.

James Poindexter, an employment law expert in Jacksonville, spoke about them with News4JAX.

While early impressions say the court may stop the vaccine or testing mandate for large businesses and support the mandate aimed at certain health care workers, Poindexter warns not to assume.

“I think we really do have to wait and see how these justices deliberate on these issues,” Poindexter said. “And I think the fact that they took a long time today (Friday) is indicative the amount of of time they’re going to spend talking about this, thinking about it, researching it and coming to a decision on this issue.”

Poindexter pointed out that the argument for OSHA mandating testing or vaccinations hinges on the emergency nature of the pandemic.

“Quite frankly, there are arguments out there that, well, we are now over two years into this pandemic. Vaccines are widely available and distributed. We’ve gone through a few iterations of this. Is there still an emergency?” he said.

Justice Elena Kagan seemed to disagree on that point and support the mandates.

”This is the policy that is most geared to stop all of this,” Kagan said. “There is nothing else that will perform that function better than incentivizing people, strongly, to vaccinate themselves.”

Chief Justice John Roberts focused some of his questioning on how OSHA would implement the order.

”I think, for example, of an assembly line, you know, workers sitting next to each other for a significant length of time, working together in close contact, that presents a different kind of risk than is typical in the outside world. So could OSHA say that for businesses with assembly lines, the workers must be vaccinated?” Roberts questioned.

The White House vaccine mandate is scheduled to be implemented Monday and it’s uncertain when the Supreme Court will make it’s ruling.

In the meantime – the U.S. Postal Service requested a temporary waiver from the Biden administration.

The Deputy Postmaster General says it would disrupt the supply chain and likely see the loss of many USPS employees.

About the Author:

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.