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Will President Biden's vaccine mandate survive in court? Expert discusses legal precedent

An old Supreme Court case from 1905 could provide footing for the president's order that businesses with more than 100 employees mandate COVID-19 vaccines.

CLEVELAND — Get ready for legal challenges to President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine mandate on private citizens who work at companies with more than 100 employees.

Already, several Republican attorneys general are looking legal options, but the Biden administration says, "Bring it on." The loop hole? The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, better known as "OSHA."

"There's no straight ahead jurisdiction for the federal government to require non-federal employers in the state of Ohio to do something, but if channeled through OSHA -- which controls a lot of other safety and health regulations -- that could be the hook," attorney Dan Karon told 3News.

RELATED: Biden's vaccine rules to set off barrage of legal challenges

Another hook is the testing option for those who meet exemptions for medical or religious reasons. Karon thinks the challenge will make it to the Supreme Court, but legal precendent for a case like this was set a century ago.

"[The] Jacobson v. Massachusetts case from the Supreme Court back in 1905, where back then there was somebody who challenged a smallpox vaccine that was mandatory to stem an epidemic," Karon explained. "You do not have a right under the constitution to make your neighbor sick."

While companies, health care facilities and others deal with the fine print in the president's directive, legal clarification may not come soon.

"The process could take a long time, because a normal Supreme Court appeal could take a couple of years unless this is expedited or put on an emergency track, which I suspect this will because we need an answer to that pretty darn quickly for the sake of saving lives," Karon said.

RELATED: More companies announce COVID-19 vaccine mandates; Gov. Mike DeWine says the policy is divisive

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