On Friday, January 7, 2022 the Supreme Court held oral arguments to address OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard related to COVID-19. The two-hour long arguments were intense and revealed a sharply divided court with the conservative justices questioning OSHA’s authority, and the more liberal justices voicing their concerns about the Pandemic.
Justices Roberts and Gorsuch indicated their beliefs that states and/or Congress were better suited to deal with COVID workplace rules (rather than a federal agency). Justice Barrett similarly indicated her belief that the ETS may be too broad. The three more liberal justices made clear they felt the mandate is necessary, especially in light of the increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections due to the Omicron variant. Justice Alito suggested an administrative stay to allow the Court further time to consider the questions before it.
The answer to what—and when—the Court may rule is difficult to predict, although there was some discussion of the deadlines and the need for a quick decision. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will update you as soon as a decision is handed down or any other indication as the potential outcome becomes more clear.