Nov. 16, 2021 - The Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for big companies is still on hold.
A three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision on Friday that upholds the panel’s own temporary injunction. That pauses the mandate indefinitely while the case works its way through the judicial system.
The judges harshly criticized the concept of the mandate, with one judge calling it “a one-size-fits-all sledgehammer.”
“From economic uncertainty to workplace strife, the mere specter of the Mandate has contributed to untold economic upheaval in recent months,” Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt wrote, noting that the issue was not just economic.
“The public interest is also served by maintaining our constitutional structure and maintaining the liberty of individuals to make intensely personal decisions according to their own convictions—even, or perhaps particularly, when those decisions frustrate government officials.”
The New York Timesreported that the Justice Department said it would appeal and issued this statement: “Today’s decision is just the beginning of the process for review of this important (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standard. The department will continue to vigorously defend the standard and looks forward to obtaining a definitive resolution following consolidation of all of the pending cases for further review.”
On Nov. 4, 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. The deadline for compliance is Jan. 4, 2022
The attorneys general for Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Utah, along with several companies affected by the mandate, sued. One of their main arguments was that the power to issue such a mandate belonged to Congress, not a branch of the administration like OSHA.
The three-judge panel issued a temporary stay on Nov. 6 and heard arguments from both sides, with the Biden administration arguing OSHA did have authority to issue such a rule.
The panel on Friday voted to keep the injunction in place while the mandate goes through further judicial review. The Times said the case will probably reach the U.S. Supreme Court.