How the Supreme Court can make your life more dangerous
Your life can become much more dangerous. Republican appointees to the Supreme Court seem ready to overturn basic safety standards for our jobs, our food, our air and water.
Congress empowers federal agencies to make rules that protect us in our daily lives. Congress sets goals, but leaves it up to the health and safety experts in these agencies to develop and enforce rules.
I know the rules don’t sound very exciting, but they show how our government keeps us safe.
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Remember when there’s a lot romaine lettuce has been withdrawn because it caused outbreaks of E. coli? It was the Food and Drug Administration that protected us from disease.
Do you work in a warehouse? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets standards to ensure that you do not breathe in hazardous chemicals such as asbestos.
Enjoying fresh air on a clear sunny day? Thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency for limiting the amount of pollution that can get into our air.
These agencies save lives. Since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was created half a century ago, its workplace safety regulations have kept more over 618,000 working lives.
Republicans have been trying to gut these agencies for decades. Now that the right-wing majority in the Supreme Court is firmly established, they have every chance.
Court argued that Covid is not an “occupational hazard” because people can become infected outside of work, and that allowing OSHA to regulate in this way would “greatly expand” its powers without explicit congressional authorization.
This is absurd at first glance. Section 2 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1970 clearly defines OSHA’s authority to make and enforce policies that protect workers from illness, injury, and death in the workplace. Congress doesn’t need to list every specific workplace hazard before OSHA can protect workers.
This ruling tells us that the Republican appointees on the Supreme Court intend to remove the agency’s ability to make rulings.
This court period will also hear the case regarding the EPA’s authority to enforce the Clean Water Act. If the court undermines the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency, it will endanger our environment and our health. Remember when The Cuyahoga River caught fire because it was filled with oil and acid and factory chemicals? This is something we can return to.
And what’s next? Will they disembowel the FTC and expose us all to the risk of being duped? Target the Securities and Exchange Commission and deregulate the financial sector, fueling another financial crisis?
Beware. If the Republican appointees to the Supreme Court succeed in gutting the regulators, we will all lose. This agenda is anti-worker, anti-consumer, and anti-environment. The only thing it’s good for is corporate profit.