The Biden administration on Thursday defended its vaccine rule to the Supreme Court, claiming opponents are wrong to call the policy a mandate.
Justice Department lawyers are contending with claims from red states, business groups, and religious organizations who say Congress has never empowered the executive branch to require vaccinations. The Biden administration denies the rule is a mandate, since it gives employers flexibility to choose between mandating vaccines or implementing a testing policy.
Victory for the administration in the Supreme Court would mean little from a political perspective. A lopsided majority of Americans oppose further mandates and restrictions to impede the Omicron variant, a grim political challenge President Joe Biden acknowledged at a Dec. 21 press conference.
"I know vaccination requirements are unpopular for many, not even popular for those who are anxious to get them," the president said. "My administration has put them in place not to control your life, but to save your life and the lives of others."