Clarence Thomas takes aim at a new target: Eliminating OSHA

  • Clarence Thomas thinks the Occupational Safety and Health Administration may be unconstitutional.

  • He disagreed with his fellow justices who declined to take up a case challenging OSHA's authority.

  • The archconservative justice has questioned other decisions, like marriage equality.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has set his sights on eliminating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday announced which cases it would consider next and which it wouldn't. Among those the court rejected was a case that challenged the authority of OSHA, which sets and enforces standards for health and safety in the workplace.

And Thomas, widely considered to be the most conservative justice on the already mostly conservative court, wasn't happy.

In a dissent, he explained why he believed the high court should've taken the case: OSHA's power, he argues, is unconstitutional.

The case in question — Allstates Refractory Contractors v. Julie A. Su, Acting Secretary of Labor — was supported by conservative business groups and Republican attorneys general who want to limit OSHA's power over American workplaces, USA Today reported. In it, the plaintiffs, general contractors in Ohio, argue that Congress violated the Constitution by delegating legislative power to an outside agency when it established OSHA in 1970.

"Congress purported to empower an administrative agency to impose whatever workplace-safety standards it deems 'appropriate,'" Thomas wrote. "That power extends to virtually every business in the United States."

The federal US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld OSHA's constitutionality in 2023, arguing that the agency's authority is valid because it's limited to just workplace safety, Reuters reported.

But Thomas believes the agency's powers are still too great.

"The agency claims authority to regulate everything from a power lawnmower's design," he wrote, "to the level of 'contact between trainers and whales at SeaWorld.'"

He argued that if OSHA didn't unconstitutionally grant too much legislative power to an agency, "it is hard to imagine what would."

"It would be no less objectionable if Congress gave the Internal Revenue Service authority to impose any tax on a particular person that it deems 'appropriate,'" Thomas continued.

This isn't the first time Thomas has disagreed with his fellow justices to a conservative extreme.

In 2022, when the high court overturned Roe v. Wade, Thomas went a step further to argue that the court should also reconsider its previous decisions that protected contraception access, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriages.

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