November 27, 2021

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Court Temporarily Blocks Biden’s Vaccine Mandate for Large Companies – The New York Times

2 min read

A federal appeals panel in Louisiana has temporarily blocked the Biden administration’s new safety regulations directing businesses with more than 100 workers to require their employees to get vaccinations against the coronavirus by early January.

The three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted a temporary stay to a group of businesses, religious groups, advocacy organizations and several states that had filed a joint petition in court, arguing the administration had overstepped its authority.

Numerous Republican-led states have filed legal challenges against the new rule, among them Texas, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah.

The court said in a brief order, signed by a deputy clerk, that the judges were blocking the regulation “because the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate.” It said the rule was suspended “pending further action by this court.”

The two-page order did not elaborate on what the constitutional and statutory problems were with the rule or give any indication of whether the judges agreed with the opponents of the rule. But it directed the Biden administration to respond by 5 p.m. Monday to the request for a permanent injunction from the groups opposed to the rule.

Seema Nanda, the chief legal officer for the U.S. Department of Labor, said in a statement that the government was confident in its legal authority to issue the emergency temporary standard on vaccination and testing.

“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,” Ms. Nanda said.

“We are fully prepared to defend this standard in court,” she added.

The regulations are not slated to go into effect until Jan. 4. On Thursday, the Biden administration set that date as the deadline for large companies to mandate coronavirus vaccinations or start weekly testing of their workers. The move was the government’s biggest effort yet to enlist private businesses in combating the virus.

The new rules were crafted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and issued as an “emergency temporary standard,” invoking emergency powers concerning safety in the workplace. Applying to companies with 100 or more, the mandate is expected to cover 84 million workers, roughly 31 million of whom are unvaccinated. It lays out details of a plan President Biden first announced in September.

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