COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) - On Thursday, the Supreme Court blocked a major push by President Joe Biden's administration to require employees at large businesses get a Covid-19 vaccine or test for the virus regularly.
While the Supreme Court is allowing a nationwide vaccine mandate for certain healthcare workers to go into effect, overall the decision is a major loss for the Biden Administration's battle.
But University of Colorado - Colorado Springs Political Science professor Josh Dunn says the President's next step could be to encourage individual states to consider broad vaccine mandates of their own, since Congress is unlikely to act on the situation.
"President Biden has one option: to use the bully pulpit and then try to convince states that are friendly to his position to impose a similar kind of mandate," said Dunn. "Because states retain what's known as the "police power" and the federal government doesn't have the police power. It's general power of government, to protect the health, welfare, safety, and morals of the people. So states have that, federal government doesn't have it, and it's much easier for states to do this kind of thing."
However, so far Colorado has not announced plans to take on their own mandate similar to what the White House wanted. Private businesses, on the other hand, are still allowed to require the shot.
"The general rule under both Colorado and federal law is that an employer generally may require certain vaccinations, so long as those requirements are job-related and consistent with business necessity," said Joseph Brown, an attorney at Telios Law. "So the mandate itself did not create that ability for employers. Employers had that right, even though it was a very narrow one.”
Many Coloradans lost their jobs over the last year for refusing to get the shot. While generally it's tough to sue over violating a company rule, there are possible exceptions.
"An employee might have a claim for refusal to accommodate a disability, or a sincerely held religious belief where an employer granted accommodations to some employees, but not to others," said Brown. "An employee might have a claim for disparate treatment or discrimination, where an employer may create a hostile work environment or take some kind of retaliatory action against an employee for having made an exemption request or for having opposed the vaccination about policy, then the employee may have a viable claim. It depends on what the underlying reason for the employee's job loss was."