Nov. 8, 2021 -- A federal appeals panel on Saturday blocked implementation of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for organizations with 100 or more employees.
The three-judge panel for the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals acted on an emergency lawsuit filed by state attorneys general opposing the mandate. In a four-paragraph order, the federal judges said they issued a temporary stay because they found “cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate…”
The judges gave the Biden administration until Monday to respond and explain why a permanent injunction against the mandate should not be issued.
The key question is whether the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has the authority to issue a vaccine mandate, or whether that job belongs to Congress, The New York Times reported. If the judges put a permanent injunction in place, the case could go to the U.S. Supreme Court, The NYT Times said.
On Thursday, the Biden administration, through OSHA, unveiled the rule requiring organizations with 100 or more employees to mandate workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or require workers to submit to weekly testing. A Jan. 4 deadline was set.
On Friday, the attorneys general for Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Utah, along with several companies affected by the mandate, filed a lawsuit in opposition with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in New Orleans.
“The Biden Administration’s new vaccine mandate on private businesses is a breathtaking abuse of federal power,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement. “OSHA has only limited power and specific responsibilities. This latest move goes way outside those bounds.”
After the court ruling on Saturday, Paxton tweeted: “The fight is not over and I will never stop resisting this Admin’s unconstitutional overreach!”
The Department of Labor, of which OSHA is a part, said it was prepared to argue its side in court, The NYT said.
“The Occupational Safety and Health Act explicitly gives OSHA the authority to act quickly in an emergency where the agency finds that workers are subjected to a grave danger and a new standard is necessary to protect them,” the Labor Department’s chief legal officer, Seema Nanda, said in a statement.
A similar lawsuit against the vaccine mandate was filed by the attorneys general of Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.