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At The Christian Science Monitor, Prof. Coglianese explains the potential far-reaching consequences of the SCOTUS decision that strikes down OSHA’s vaccine mandate

January 18, 2022

Coglianese predicts the Court will continue to “be suspicious of grand exercises of regulatory authority by federal agencies.”

The Supreme Court’s recent decision striking down OSHA’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for large employers could have far-reaching consequences in administrative law, Cary Coglianese, Edward B. Shils Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science, recently told The Christian Science Monitor.

“It’s clear that a majority of the court will be suspicious of grand exercises of regulatory authority by federal agencies,” said Coglianese. “This has implications far beyond just the OSHA vaccine … mandate. This has implications for climate change. This has implications for any area that requires some big governmental intervention, particularly regulatory intervention, where there isn’t some new legislation squarely directed at that problem.”

When asked what the decision meant for a federal vaccine mandate moving forward, Coglianese said, “For all practical purposes, as a legal matter, it’s … dead in the water.”

Although the Court’s decision only granted a petition to stay the OSHA rule pending further litigation, Coglianese noted that the decision clearly articulated the Supreme Court majority’s view of the ultimate merits of the case — namely, that OSHA exceeded its statutory authority.

Moreover, Coglianese observes another important practical implication of the Court’s decision: it delays the application of a nationwide workplace vaccine mandate.

“To the extent that OSHA’s rule — technically, an emergency temporary standard—was needed urgently to address the COVID crisis, then any delay in the rule will mean the loss of the rule’s efficacy — and the loss of lives,” says Coglianese.

The decision is also important when considering how much farther its implications could stretch, according to Coglianese.

“For anyone who has not already intuited it, the decision in the OSHA case reveals the skeptical posture toward business regulation to expect more generally from the new Supreme Court majority,” Coglianese adds.

Coglianese, the Director of the Penn Program on Regulation, specializes in the study of administrative law and regulatory processes, with an emphasis on the empirical evaluation of alternative processes and strategies and the role of public participation, technology, and business-government relations in policy-making. He is the founding editor of the peer-reviewed journal Regulation & Governance, and he founded and continues to serve as advisor to The Regulatory Review.

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