Biden administration asks court to authorize vaccine
The Biden administration on Tuesday asked a federal court to allow it to move forward with a workplace rule that requires employees at major companies to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing.
The mandate is a cornerstone of the administration’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 as concerns grow that the nation is on the cusp of another winter surge in virus cases and hospitalizations.
Republican state attorneys general, conservative organizations, and some companies argued that the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration lacked the authority to authorize vaccines and were able to persuade a separate federal court to issue a suspension of the workplace rule.
Lawyers for the agency and the Department of Justice, in their file before the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, said the authorization is necessary to limit transmission of the virus in workplaces and “the severe harm the virus does to workers.”
It estimated that mandating the vaccine would prevent 6,500 worker deaths and 250,000 hospitalizations over six months. The pandemic has already killed more than 750,000 in the United States since 2020, and cases have risen rapidly over the past several weeks.
If it is in place, the OSHA rule will go into effect on January 4 and will apply to private businesses with 100 or more employees, affecting nearly 84 million workers across the United States. the job. There are exceptions for employees who work from home, alone or outdoors.
A three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision blocking the mandate. In a unanimous resolution, the commission described the mandate as “a one-size-fits-all sledgehammer that makes almost no attempt to explain differences in workplaces (and workers) that have more than little effect on varying degrees of workers’ vulnerability to what is supposed to be a “serious risk” Mandate processed”.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said last week it would suspend implementation and enforcement due to the suspension.
The United States has an opportunity to try to reverse the moratorium because all challenges to the mandate have been consolidated in another circuit court of appeals – the Cincinnati-based Sixth Circuit, which was chosen at random last week.
Like the fifth, it is controlled by judges appointed by Republican presidents. That could be important in a legal battle over an issue where opinions are deeply divided along partisan lines.
In their filing Tuesday, administration attorneys criticized the previous ruling for accepting the argument that OSHA cannot regulate COVID-19 in part because it is not a workplace-specific risk.
“The nature of workplaces is that employees gather in one place for extended periods and interact, thus risking transmission of a highly contagious virus in the workplace,” they said.
State attorneys general and others defying the mandate have demanded that the case be heard by all judges in the Sixth Circuit, rather than a panel of three judges. The court has asked others who join that demand to do so by Wednesday and respond from opponents by November 30.
The legal dispute over mandating the vaccine to larger private employers is one of many challenges around the Biden administration’s vaccine rules. The courts have yet to stop two more mandates — one for health care workers and one for contractors for the federal government.
Mulvihill reports from Sherry Hill, New Jersey.
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