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Fifth Circuit Imposes Temporary Stay on Business Vaccine Mandate

November 7, 2021 by Dan McCue
A licensed practical nurse draws a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a mass vaccination clinic at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

NEW ORLEANS — The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Saturday temporarily blocked a mandate from the Biden administration that businesses with more than 100 employees require them to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by early January.

The White House has estimated the order, which it calls a “temporary standard,” could apply to as many as 84 million workers.

The stay was requested by several Republican-led states, business groups and other organizations shortly after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the order last week.

In a joint petition to the court, the plaintiffs argued the administration had overstepped its authority.

In a brief order, the three-judge panel said they decided to block the order  “because the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate.”

The appellate judges offered no further explanation of the rationale behind their decision to impose the stay, nor did they identify any specific constitutional problems with the action the administration had taken.

However, it did direct the 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 Labor Department, said in a statement that the government is confident it has the legal authority to impose an 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,” Nanda said, adding, “We are fully prepared to defend this standard in court.”

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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