More than two dozen states have filed multiple legal challenges in federal court against the Biden administration’s vaccinate-or-test mandate for private businesses, arguing that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) doesn’t have the authority to issue the requirements. The four lawsuits were filed by groups of 26 states in the 8th Circuit, 11th Circuit, 6th Circuit, and 5th Circuit over the past few days. They seek to nullify an emergency rule released Thursday that requires companies with more than 100 employees to verify their workers are vaccinated or have unvaccinated workers wear masks and submit to weekly Covid-19 testing.
An ultra-conservative circuit court in Louisiana was the first to block the Biden administration’s mandate that millions of workers get vaccinated against Covid-19 or be tested weekly, ruling in a suit filed by several states, companies, and conservative religious groups. The states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Utah are also among the plaintiffs. “Because the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate, the Mandate is hereby STAYED pending further action by this court,” a panel of judges for the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Saturday.
The lawsuits argue that the Department of Labor lacks the authority to issue a rule and that it did not follow the proper procedure in issuing the emergency temporary standard. Some states have varied their arguments; for example, the suit led by Florida, Georgia, and Alabama in the 11th Circuit also argues the requirements conflict with the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The Fifth Circuit has stayed enforcement of the Biden administration’s private-employer vaccine mandate — not because it actually applied the right test for such emergency relief, but simply by asserting that the mandate raises “grave statutory and constitutional issues.” pic.twitter.com/NGSknZ5CRH
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) November 6, 2021
The Republican trend to fight vaccine mandates across mostly Southern states has led to the highest numbers of hospitalizations and deaths in the last few months. CDC statistics show that upwards of 99% of COVID deaths and hospitalizations would be preventable with vaccinations.
Now: 5th U.S. Circuit blocks Biden COVID-19 mandate pending further court order. Government must respond by Monday. Order: pic.twitter.com/s3Jrb5MWfl
— Mike Scarcella (@MikeScarcella) November 6, 2021
[This is a developing story, please check back for updates]