A New York City restaurant owner said he would not follow the city’s vaccine mandate for private employees and dared the governor to arrest him.
Stratis Morfogen, owner of The Brooklyn Chop Shop and Dumpling Shop, told Fox’s Tucker Carlson on Thursday that the state is wrong to continue to impose its mandate after restauranteurs struggled throughout the pandemic and helped feed first responders.
‘I’m not doing the mandate, and I told Governor [Kathy] Hochul to come and arrest me,’ he said.
‘I’m not doing it because, first of all, the employees we have, these were our heroes. In [the] early part of COVID, we fed 8,400 health care workers.
‘I’m not firing these people for a jab for a job,’ he said.
Morfogen added that he was glad the US Supreme Court agreed with him after they voted 6-3 to block his sweeping rules on private companies, which included a vaccine mandate, in a crushing blow to his pandemic response on Thursday.
Stratis Morfogen (right), owner of The Brooklyn Chop Shop and Dumpling Shop, spoke with Fox’s Tucker Carlson on Thursday and said he would not follow the state’s vaccine mandate
He said the employees at his restaurant were heroes who helped feed 8,400 emergency workers during the start of the pandemic
Morfogen dared New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (above) to arrest him for not following the state’s mandate
The conservative justices claimed Biden’s rule was over-broad and would have presented a ‘significant encroachment’ on the ‘everyday lives — and health — of’ the 84 million American workers that would have been impacted.
‘I’m glad the supreme court agrees with me,’ Morfogen told Tucker.
The restauranteur added that the city’s vaccine mandate does not do much to combat the spread of COVID as those who are vaccinated may still be infected and spread the virus.
‘I could be asymptomatic positive, and I can walk into my crowded restaurant – our Brooklyn Chop House, our Brooklyn Dumpling Shop – and I could spread it to everyone,’ he said showing off his vaccine card.
While rejecting Biden’s plan, the justices did pass his mandate for healthcare workers 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh siding with liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer.
Biden called the ruling on private businesses ‘disappointing’ in a statement on Thursday afternoon but added that the decision to keep the healthcare mandate ‘will save lives.’
The Supreme Court has blocked President Joe Biden ‘s vaccine-or-test mandate for private companies with 100 or more employees, in a 6-3 decision handed down on Thursday that dealt a crushing blow to the White House’s pandemic response
‘This emergency standard allowed employers to require vaccinations or to permit workers to refuse to be vaccinated, so long as they were tested once a week and wore a mask at work: a very modest burden,’ the president claimed.
‘As a result of the Court’s decision, it is now up to States and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees, and whether their businesses will be safe for consumers during this pandemic by requiring employees to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated.’
Thirteen states including Texas, Florida and Arizona have bans or limits on imposing vaccine mandates while many companies including Macy’s and Starbucks have already announced measures for their employees.
Democrat-led states such as New York with their own mandates won’t be impacted and can keep their rules in place, while states without any rules in place can decide for themselves.
Republicans celebrated the decision by calling it a ‘victory for freedom’ after claiming it was an overreach for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – the agency usually tasked with investigating asbestos and workplace accidents.
The decision also came as new data appeared to show Omicron may have peaked that cases could soon fall sharply.
Statistics from Johns Hopkins University shows that New York, New Jersey and Maryland have all seen seven day-average cases drop in recent days. Deaths have spiked by 20 per cent in a fortnight to around 1,820 a day, but still sit far below the peaks of winter 2020, even though more COVID infections are being recorded.
It’s the latest setback in a bad day for Joe Biden (pictured telling reporters that Democrats’ current plan for voting rights is dead after moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema objected to scuttling the filibuster)
Biden’s rival Donald Trump praised the decision and mocked Biden’s campaign-era promise to ‘shut down’ the virus.
‘The Supreme Court has spoken, confirming what we all knew: Biden’s disastrous mandates are unconstitutional,’ Trump said in a statement through his Save America PAC.
‘Biden promised to shut down the virus, not the economy but he has failed miserably on both—and mandates would have further destroyed the economy. We are proud of the Supreme Court for not backing down. No mandates!’
Biden rolled out sweeping measures in September aimed at getting more Americans vaccinated, after the rate of inoculations slumped as the Delta variant brought a new wave of infections over the summer. If implemented, they would have affected a combined one-third of the US workforce.
Following the president’s orders the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the agency which ensures public and private workplace safety on a federal level, rolled out details for its rules for private companies.
In the 6-3 majority opinion, the conservative justices claim the rule ‘draws no distinctions based on industry or risk of exposure to COVID–19.’
They go on to argue that COVID-19 is not an ‘occupational hazard’ and can be spread ‘at home, in schools, during sporting events, and everywhere else that people gather.’
‘That kind of universal risk is no different from the day-to-day dangers that all face from crime, air pollution, or any number of communicable diseases,’ the opinion states.
Biden on Thursday said he was disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision, but would urge businesses to step up and tell States to do the right thing
‘Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life—simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock—would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.’
This is no ‘everyday exercise of federal power’: SCOTUS justices key arguments in their decision
‘It draws no distinctions based on industry or risk of exposure to COVID–19. Thus, most lifeguards and linemen face the same regulations as do medics and meatpackers.’
‘This is no ‘everyday exercise of federal power’ … It is instead a significant encroachment into the lives—and health—of a vast number of employees.’
‘Although COVID– 19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most. COVID–19 can and does spread at home, in schools, during sporting events, and everywhere else that people gather…
‘…That kind of universal risk is no different from the day-to-day dangers that all face from crime, air pollution, or any number of communicable diseases.’
‘OSHA’s indiscriminate approach fails to account for this crucial distinction— between occupational risk and risk more generally—and accordingly the mandate takes on the character of a general public health measure, rather than an ‘occupational safety or health standard.”
They called the rule a ‘blunt instrument’ that would improperly place the same workplace guidelines on a ‘lineman’ as a ‘medic.’
In his concurring opinion Justice Neil Gorsuch appeared to take a jab at White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, who landed himself and Biden in hot water late last year by retweeting an MSNBC host calling the mandate the ‘ultimate work-around’ to normal Congressional authorities.
Gorsuch said it appeared that OSHA ‘pursued its regulatory initiative only as a legislative ‘work-around.”
In typical fashion Klain took to Twitter to defend his boss’s mandate on Thursday.
‘We didn’t impose ANY vaccine requirements until August, and the one the Court stayed today was not announced until September,’ Klain wrote.
‘These requirements were used only after persuasion, incentives ($100 to get a vax), and final FDA approval were all in place.’
Republican praise for the court’s decision poured in near-immediately.
House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy blasted Biden’s mandates as ‘unlawful and not based on science’ before promising to continue to oppose the rule for healthcare workers.
‘Today’s ruling blocking OSHA’s vaccine mandate is a welcomed rejection of an arbitrary, aggressive, and authoritarian government. But the fight isn’t over. Republicans will continue to speak up for the many health care workers who have been wrongly fired due to a similar mandate,’ McCarthy said.
‘This is a huge win. The federal government has no place making far-reaching mandates that put an undue burden on businesses across Wyoming,’ Senator Cynthia Lummis wrote on Twitter.
Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump’s ex-Secretary of State, said Biden’s mandate is ‘unconstitutional. Period.’
‘Grateful the Supreme Court agreed. We must always be vigilant to ensure the federal government does not become too powerful,’ Pompeo said on the platform.
The GOP tweeted: ‘This is a victory for American workers, and the GOP is proud of our role filing one of the lawsuits that halted this mandate.’
Senator Roger Marshall, a licensed physician, celebrated: ‘This is a HUGE victory for all Americans who were forced to fight against Joe Biden’s cruel campaign to punish workers over their medical freedom.’
National Republican Party chair Ronna McDaniel said: ‘We are proud to have filed one of the lawsuits challenging the Biden administration and are encouraged by this ruling, but the fight is not over. The Republican National Committee will continue to stand up for businesses and workers.’
Will the states step in? How Democrat states could employee their own private mandates, and the Republicans could introduce more bans
The Supreme Court ruling will give essentially leave it up to the states to decide whether to put a mandate on private employees in place.
Thirteen Republican states have already imposed a ban or limitation on such mandates, but Democrat-led states may have the option of extending rules for state and healthcare workers into the private sector.
Vaccines are mandated for for state workers in 19 states while they are banned in 10 states, according to the National Academy for Health and State Policy.
Here is a breakdown of mandates in the states:
(Source Leading Age)
Thirteen states that have banned or limited vaccine mandates on employees
· Arizona: Ban applies to all employers except healthcare. Healthcare institutions are permitted – but not mandated – to require vaccinations. However, they must provide ‘reasonable accommodation’ for any who are unvaccinated.
· Arkansas*: Ban scope is only state entities; does not address private sector employers.
· Florida: Ban scope includes ALL private and public employers, and employers who violate the ban face a $10,000 per employee violation fine.
· Georgia: Ban scope is only state entities; does not address private sector employers.
· Idaho: Ban scope is only state entities; does not address private sector employers.
· Indiana: Ban scope is only state entities; does not address private sector employers.
· Kansas: Ban scope includes all private and public employers.
· Montana: Ban applies to all employers except healthcare. Healthcare institutions are permitted to ask employees to voluntarily share their status and may assume that anyone who does not share their status is unvaccinated. However, they must provide ‘reasonable accommodation’ for any who are unvaccinated.
· New Hampshire: Generally bans the mandate of vaccines as a condition of employment unless a ‘direct threat’ exists (see link for definition) that cannot be addressed by other means or a reasonable accommodation
· North Dakota: Ban scope is only state entities; does not address private sector employers.
· Tennessee: Ban scope is only state entities; does not address private sector employers.
· Texas: Ban scope includes all private and public employers.
· Utah: Ban scope is only state entities; does not address private sector employers.
Some of these Republican states could widen their ban on mandates. Other GOP states not on the list could also be considering measures.
States that mandate for health care workers, ‘vaccination or termination’
· New York
· Rhode Island
States that mandate for health care workers, ‘vaccination or testing and masking’
Earlier on Thursday, Biden smirked as reporters asked him questions about the COVID response and when he will hold his next news conference
‘It is now up to States and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces safe’: Biden’s full SCOTUS ruling reply
My administration began to institute vaccination requirements last July, when after months of making vaccinations free and widely available, 90 million Americans were still unvaccinated. Today, that number is down to under 35 million. These vaccine requirements applied to members of the Armed Forces, federal workers and contractors, health care workers, and employees in large firms. Had my administration not put vaccination requirements in place, we would be now experiencing a higher death toll from COVID-19 and even more hospitalizations.
Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the requirement for health care workers will save lives: the lives of patients who seek care in medical facilities, as well as the lives of doctors, nurses, and others who work there. It will cover 10.4 million health care workers at 76,000 medical facilities. We will enforce it.
At the same time, I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen to block common-sense life-saving requirements for employees at large businesses that were grounded squarely in both science and the law. This emergency standard allowed employers to require vaccinations or to permit workers to refuse to be vaccinated, so long as they were tested once a week and wore a mask at work: a very modest burden.
As a result of the Court’s decision, it is now up to States and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees, and whether their businesses will be safe for consumers during this pandemic by requiring employees to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated. The Court has ruled that my administration cannot use the authority granted to it by Congress to require this measure, but that does not stop me from using my voice as President to advocate for employers to do the right thing to protect Americans’ health and economy. I call on business leaders to immediately join those who have already stepped up – including one third of Fortune 100 companies – and institute vaccination requirements to protect their workers, customers, and communities.
We have to keep working together if we want to save lives, keep people working, and put this pandemic behind us.
In his reaction to the Supreme Court ruling, Trump mocked Biden’s campaign promise to ‘shut down’ the virus
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain defended his boss’ vaccine rule. In his concurring opinion with the majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch took a shot at Klain for retweeting that Biden’s order is the ‘ultimate work-around’ in November
Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised the Supreme Court’s decision on private businesses
As of now 25 states have some kind of workplace COVID vaccine mandates, 16 of which have a rule specifically for healthcare workers or long-term care workers, according to Leading Age’s tracker.
The majority of states with vaccination mandates also provide an alternative testing option.
Six states have a ‘vaccine or terminate’ rule for health care settings, meaning only employees who qualify for specific exemptions can work there unvaccinated.