OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Right now, all eyes are on the Supreme Court as it hears arguments on the legality of President Joe Biden’s administration’s vaccine mandate for private businesses.
The Justices began hearing arguments on Friday and some of the liberal judges shared some ridiculous thoughts on what they believed were facts regarding COVID-19, The Federalist reported.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rolled out its emergency temporary standard demanding that private employers with 100 or more employees require vaccinations at the request of the Biden administration late last year. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay, however, preventing enforcement.
Challengers of the OSHA standard argued on Friday that the agency has no right to force a medical decision on workers, but several justices pushed back on this idea using false narratives about COVID-19 to justify the federal government’s vaccine mandate.
Justice Elena Kagan suggested that getting the vaccine reduces the spread of COVID-19, a dubious claim that’s contested by the rapidly rising number of breakthrough cases worldwide. Kagan’s opinion is that “this is the policy that is most geared to stopping all this.”
“There’s nothing else that will perform that function better than incentivizing people strongly to vaccinate themselves. So, you know, whatever necessary means, whatever grave means, why isn’t this necessary and grave?” the Justice said.
“We do not contest that COVID is a grave danger,” National Federation of Independent Business attorney Scott Keller responded. “But when the power for it to be necessary… an agency has to consider and explain alternatives.”
Justice Stephen Breyer also appeared to believe that being vaccinated would stop people from spreading the virus, and argued that the argument that more people would leave the workforce due to the mandates was moot because “more may quit when they discover they have to work together with unvaccinated others because that means they may get the disease.”
“And more will quit because they’ll maybe die, or maybe they will be in the hospital, or maybe they’ll be sick and have to stay home for two weeks,” he said.
He also appeared to claim that if everyone was vaccinated the pandemic would stop and no one would get the disease before saying that there were “750 million new cases yesterday,” in the United States, even though the population of the United States is around 331 million people.
And Justice Sonia Sotomayor continued with her own alternative facts.
“Catching COVID keeps people out of the workplace for extraordinary periods of time,” the justice said.
And she said that “those numbers show that omicron is as deadly and causes as much serious disease in the unvaccinated as delta did,” even as studies show that the Omicron variant is significantly less severe.
She also made the false claim that “hospitals are almost all full capacity,” and said that more than 100,000 children are hospitalized with COVID and on ventilators, which is also not true.
“The current national pediatric COVID census per HHS is 3,342. Many/most incidental,” Phil Kerpen said.
This is just absolutely astonishing. "100,000 children in serious condition," per Sotomayor. Where do these people obtain their misinformation? The current national pediatric COVID census per HHS is 3,342. Many/most incidental.
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) January 7, 2022
Justice Clarence Thomas was among the conservative Justices who appear to be on the side of ending the mandate, and he attacked some of the lies of his colleagues.
“There’s been some talk suggestion, or at least it seems to be implied, that the vaccinations are efficacious and preventing some degree of infection to others,” he said.
“Vaccines do not appear to be very effective in stopping the spread of transmission,” Benjamin Flowers, Ohio’s solicitor general, said. “They are very effective in stopping severe consequences, and that’s why our states strongly urge people to get [them], but I think that makes it very hard to look at the numbers they give and assume they still apply today.”