By Jake Kaplan
Here are some of the legal news stories making headlines this week:
On Thursday, the nation observed the one-year anniversary of the January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol.
- President Joe Biden & Vice President Kamala Harris remembered the attack by delivering speeches that honored law enforcement and emphasized the importance of strengthening democracy in the United States. Biden also blamed former President Donald Trump for instigating the attack by spreading “a web of lies” about the 2020 presidential election. “He’s done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interests as more important than his country’s interests and America’s interests, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution,” Biden said.
- On Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland addressed the Department of Justice staff about the ongoing January 6th investigations. Garland said that DOJ is “committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law — whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy.”
- Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump canceled his planned January 6th event at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. Reports indicated that in a scheduled press conference, Trump planned to defend the rioters and to reiterate his unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
- The January 6th committee is also continuing its investigation. On Tuesday, the committee requested that Fox News host Sean Hannity voluntarily answer questions about his communications with Trump and other White House officials pertaining to January 6th.
Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a pair of challenges to President Biden’s vaccine mandates.
- The first policy being challenged is the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emergency rule that requires employers with 100 or more employees to mandate that their employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be subjected to weekly testing.
- The second rule under review is the Department of Health and Human Services’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) mandate that requires all health care workers at facilities that receive federal funding to be fully vaccinated.
- The Biden administration estimates that taken together, the policies cover two-thirds of all workers in the United States.
- The mandates sparked a slew of challenges in courts across the country. In late December, the Supreme Court agreed to hear two such challenges.
- In these cases, the Court will decide whether the government may enforce the mandates while litigation continues over the merits of the policies, but many legal experts, like Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog, reason that “the justices’ views on whether to grant emergency relief will likely be influenced by their views on the merits of the underlying challenges themselves.”
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