Joe Biden filed an emergency lawsuit on Tuesday seeking to immediately reinstate his vaccine mandate for private employers with 100 or more workers after the rule faced a series of legal challenges.
Earlier this month, the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans issued a preliminary pause on the order, which prevented the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from moving forward in implementing the employer rules.
The Justice Department argues in its filing, according to The Wall Street Journal, that the rules reflect ‘OSHA’s judgment that these measures are necessary to mitigate Covid-19 transmission in the workplace, and the grievous harms the virus inflicts on workers.’
Several Republican-led states, employers, unions and other organizations filed lawsuits against the administration’s order.
Biden’s court motion was filed by the DOJ with the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, which a federal judicial panel on multidistrict litigation designated last week as the court that will decide legal challenges related to Biden’s vaccine-or-test rule. All cases related to the order were consolidated to that court.
Lawsuits consolidated argue, in part, that OSHA is engaged in unlawful government overreach into the private sector. Others, however, claim that the mandate doesn’t go far enough in protecting workers from coronavirus.
The new rule requires that workers get vaccinated by January 4, 2022 or else be tested weekly – in most cases on their one dime – and wear masks in the workplace.
If violated, employers could face up to $13,653 per violation or $136,532 in fines if they were repeat offenders or found to be intentionally balking the rule.
President Joe Biden’s Justice Department filed a lawsuit with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to reimplement the workplace vaccine mandate
Vaccine mandates have been highly controversial throughout the US
The mandate is expected to affect more around 84 million U.S. workers at businesses and companies with 100 or more employees.
OSHA estimates, according to the DOJ filing on Tuesday, that the mandate would save more than 6,500 lives of workers in private industry and prevent more than 25,000 hospitalizations over six months.
Last Wednesday, OSHA announced it was suspending implementation and enforcement of its order after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld its stay on the rule. It ordered that OSHA ‘take no steps to implement or enforce’ the emergency order ‘until further court order.’
‘While OSHA remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies, OSHA has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS pending future developments in the litigation,’ the OSHA website stated.
Vaccination rates plummeted over the summer after the initial rollout in the spring
Circuit Court Judge Kurt Engelhardt wrote in the prevailing opinion that the mandate goes too far, and that he has ‘grave’ concerns about whether the edict is legal or constitutional.
‘The mandate is staggeringly overbroad,’ the opinion said. ‘The mandate is a one-size-fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces (and workers).’
The Fifth Circuit said OSHA’s rules improperly asserted ‘virtually unlimited power to control individual conduct under the guise of a workplace regulation.’
The DOJ promised to ‘vigorously defend’ Biden’s vaccine mandate after it was held up by federal court – as evident by its court filing on Tuesday.
The Fifth Circuit lost jurisdiction over the cases when all related to the mandate were moved to Cincinnati.
The Sixth Circuit could now have the authority to dissolve the Fifth Circuit’s stay, which is what the administration is requesting in its lawsuit.