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Political analyst weighs in on Supreme Court decision to halt vaccine rule

Some workers will still have to vaccinate or get tested for COVID-19, but the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that large businesses do not have to follow that plan.

The high court blocked President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate, which would have affected 80 million people. Certain health care workers, though, will face a mandate that was ruled constitutional.

The ruling came less than a week after the court heard extensive arguments on two vaccine mandate policies. The court determined the Occupational Safety and Health Administration overstepped its authority requiring workers at large businesses to vaccinate or test.

RELATED: Supreme Court halts COVID-19 vaccine rule for US businesses

On the same day, justices ruled that the agency protecting the health of Medicare and Medicaid patients can mandate the vaccine for workers.

“The rule itself is far reaching,” said News4JAX political analyst Rick Mullaney. “Over 84 million workers potentially, that rule wouldn’t require a vaccine or testing for all workers in all the companies of more than 100 employees. The health care was smaller, but still means people 10 to 15 million people. So it’s broad in what they would cover.”

Three dissenting justices issued a statement in the ruling blocking the large business mandate, calling it unwise.

In part they say, “In the face of a still-raging pandemic, this Court tells the agency charged with protecting worker safety that it may not do so in all the workplaces needed. As disease and death continue to mount, this Court tells the agency that it cannot respond in the most effective way possible.”

“I do not view this as much of an ideological divide. It is a legal divide,” Mullaney said. “Remember, the court wasn’t ruling on whether this was good policy or bad policy. They were giving their legal judgment as to what was constitutional or if it’s not.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki spoke of the ruling during a Thursday news conference.

“The Supreme Court’s decision on the OSHA mandate essentially means that in this pandemic, it is up to individual employers to determine whether their workplaces will be safe for employees and whether their businesses will be safe for consumers.”

Conservative leaders in Florida and Georgia quickly reacted to the ruling.

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., tweeted: “Today’s Supreme Court ruling sends a clear message: Biden is not a king & his gross overreaches of federal power will not be tolerated.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted: “This afternoon, the Supreme Court affirmed what we all know to be true: Joe Biden has no right to force federal government mandates on private businesses.”

And Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a news conference: “If you believe -- like the Founding Fathers believe -- that the Constitution is one of limited and enumerated powers, you cannot authorize the federal government acting with basically is like a state police power.”

The Biden administration wanted the court to at least leave in place requirements for masking and frequent testing, but the majority rejected that request.

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.