In September, President Joe Biden issued a COVID-19 vaccine mandate requiring companies employing more than 100 workers to get them inoculated. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a temporary order that bans the mandate from coming into effect. The decision came as part of a lawsuit filed by Utah’s attorney general. Texas, Mississippi, and South Carolina had also joined the lawsuit.
The presidential mandate led to the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issuing an order asking companies to comply with the mandate by Jan. 4, 2022. Employees who refuse to get vaccinated are required to get tested weekly and wear face masks.
The court issued a temporary halt against Biden’s mandate on Nov. 6. But on Nov. 8, Washington asked private employers to comply with the vaccination requirement, arguing that not doing so might result in the death of workers. On Nov. 12, the court once more reaffirmed its decision, stating that Biden’s mandate is “staggeringly overboard.”
In the ruling, Judge Kurt Engelhardt stated that the vaccine mandate threatens to “substantially burden” employees who are forced to choose between their jobs or jabs. It criticized the mandate as a “one-size-fits-all sledgehammer” that does not take into account the differences in workers and workplaces. Denying petitioners their request to refuse the order would do them “irreparable harm.”
“The petitioners’ motion for a stay pending review is GRANTED. Enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s ‘COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing; Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS)’ remains STAYED pending adequate judicial review of the petitioners’ underlying motions for a permanent injunction. In addition, IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that OSHA take no steps to implement or enforce the Mandate until further court order,” the judgment said.
The court went on to state that Biden’s mandate “raises serious constitutional concerns” and that it potentially exceeds the authority of the federal government. It affirmed the need to maintain the “constitutional structure” and “liberty of individuals” to take personal decisions as per their own conviction even if such decisions “frustrate government officials.”
The court stated the stay was ordered “firmly in the public interest.” The court also observed that the “mere specter” of Biden’s mandate had resulted in “untold economic upheaval” in the country in recent months. A stay would do “no harm” to OSHA. Any interest OSHA claims to enforce the “unlawful” ETS is “illegitimate.”
In addition, any “abstract harm” OSHA might suffer due to a stay of the vaccine mandate “pales in comparison” to the harm numerous individuals and companies would suffer in the absence of the stay, the court said.
“I’m grateful the federal court reaffirmed the hold on the enforcement of the egregious overreaching vaccine mandates by the Biden administration. It is encouraging the court ‘believe there are grave statutory unconstitutional issues with the mandate… Personal health decisions should not be forced on individuals or businesses. Utah will continue to fight to keep our personal and health freedoms,” Republican Utah Senate President J. Stuart Adams said in a statement.
Utah Governor Republican Spencer J. Cox called the judgment a “win for Utahns.” The court’s observation that OSHA’s mandate exceeds their authority is encouraging. The state had recently passed a bill that prohibits employers from terminating workers who seek an exemption to vaccination on medical or religious grounds.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton hailed the ruling as a victory. “WE WON! Litigation will continue, but this is a massive victory for #Texas and for FREEDOM from Biden’s tyranny and lawlessness,” Paxton tweeted on Nov. 13.