On Friday, conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices questioned whether the Biden administration truly had the power to implement COVID testing and vaccine mandates for large private businesses. Nine justices in the Supreme Court, who are all vaccinated, took three and a half hours to hear arguments on two cases that challenge the power of the President of the United States to address a public health crisis that has taken the lives of more than 835,000 Americans.

According to Reuters, the conservative judges who hold a 6 to 3 majority favored arguments presented by the state of Ohio and a business group that claimed the federal workplace safety agency, which issued the rule affecting businesses with over 100 workers, overstepped its legal authority.

The agency in question is Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which issued an emergency order for businesses to comply with a COVID vaccine mandate or subject their employees to weekly testing, an added cost which remains unclear as to who will shoulder it.

The plaintiffs in this case have asked the Supreme Court to block the policy before the Biden administration enforces it this week.

"Our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully - even in pursuit of desirable ends," attorney Scott Keller argued in front of the Supreme Court judges on Friday, as reported by the Christian Headlines. Keller represented the National Federation of Independent Business and the National Retail Federation and underscored how his clients actually support getting the COVID vaccine but oppose President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate.

The case brought about by the businesses focuses on the power of the OSHA to enforce such rules, not the constitutionality of President Biden's vaccine mandate. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar argued that the statute in question gives OSHA the authority for the rule, adding that public health is at risk. She remarked, "Unvaccinated workers stand a one in 14 chance of being hospitalized, a one in 200 chance of dying."

While the U.S. Supreme Court's three liberal judges motioned to uphold the OSHA rule, the conservative judges fiercely questioned both sides, especially Prelogar. The conservative judges eventually appeared to oppose the OSHA rule.

Chief Justice John Roberts remarked that the OSHA rule is a "workaround" of Congress and questioned why the vaccine mandates are not "the primary responsibility of the states" instead of the federal government. He told Prelogar, "It seems to me that...the government is trying to work across the waterfront."

"I don't think you can say that that's specifically addressed ... to this problem (COVID-19)," Roberts told Prelogar in reference to the Congressional rule gibing the OSHA its power.

Justice Neil Gorsuch agreed, saying that states usually have the responsibility of overseeing vaccine mandate, but this time, "it appears that the federal government is going agency by agency as a workaround to its inability to get Congress to act."

Justice Samuel Alito on the other hand argued that being vaccinated is not just a state a person is in when he or she is at the workplace, it is also a state he or she is in when he or she is off the clock. Justice Amy Coney Barrett added that the problem with OSHA's vaccine mandate is its "scope."

Keller urged the justices to place a stay against the rule before enforcement begins, arguing that "Our members have to submit publicly their plans on how to comply with this regulatory behemoth on Monday."