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Local reaction following Friday's Supreme Court special session

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Oklahoma Attorney General John O'Connor react to Biden Administration's vaccine requirements sent to Supreme Court.

ARKANSAS, USA — On Friday, the Supreme Court held a special session hearing arguments regarding vaccine requirements proposed by the Biden Administration. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined Oklahoma Attorney General John O'Connor in their opposition to the proposal.

Both sides of the aisle have been pleading their case for or against the Biden Administration's proposed requirements.

One stipulation at the heart of Friday's debate was whether or not the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, has the legal authority to require businesses employing 100 or more people to require them to be vaccinated or tested weekly.

The session comes as the Omicron variant continues to rapidly spread across the nation.

While both attorney generals have voiced their concern over the spread of the virus, they argue that the proposed reach of OSHA requiring vaccinations or weekly testing in the workplace is illegal.

"These illegal mandates make Arkansas and our workforce decide between taking a shot or losing jobs," said Rutledge.

During the special session, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor leaned in favor of the OSHA requirement saying, "tell me what's irrational about rules of that nature when it is the workplace that puts you into contact with people that will put you at risk."

John O'Connor, the Attorney General of Oklahoma disagreed.

"When the scope of OSHA's workplace-related authority is properly defined, the Vaccine Mandate is blatantly illegal." O'Connor continued, "The Mandate acknowledges that the risk of contracting COVID-19 is inherent in human interaction, and so, it is not work-related."

It is expected that the Biden Administration will look to fast-track the implementation of the vaccine requirement as early as next week. With no decision made by the Supreme Court on Friday, it is believed a ruling to be announced soon.

Before Friday's session closed, it did appear that justices were leaning in favor of a second stipulation centered around the Department of Health and Human Services which requires health care workers to be fully vaccinated at facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid.