Tuesday, March 5, 2024

US court suspends Biden vaccine mandate for businesses

A federal appeals court on Saturday blocked the Biden administration’s private employer COVID-19 vaccine mandate, asserting there may be constitutional issues with the requirement.

“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 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said in the brief order. 

The case was brought by multiple businesses, including the American Family Association; multiple individuals; and several states, including Texas, Utah, and Mississippi.

Petitioners said the mandate, promulgated as an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), should be struck down because it exceeds OSHA’s authority under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

They said that the authority is limited to workplace-related hazards while the risk from COVID-19 is “a society-wide danger.” They also said the mandate doesn’t make sense because determining whether COVID-19 is a workplace hazard depends on employees’ age and health, not how many co-workers they have. 

“In an attempt to impose a nationwide vaccination mandate without approval from Congress, the executive branch has couched its COVID-19 vaccine mandate as an emergency workplace rule affecting nearly 100 million Americans. But the ETS is neither a workplace rule nor responsive to an emergency,” lawyers for the petitioners wrote in an emergency motion asking the court to impose a stay.

“Vaccination status is a public health issue that affects people throughout society; it is not a hazard particular to the workplace. And there is no need to use an emergency rule to address a pandemic that has been going on for nearly two years. Congress did not grant OSHA such sweeping powers in its authorizing statute,” they added.

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