Federal appeals court temporarily halts COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses

NEW ORLEANS — A federal appeals court in Louisiana on Saturday issued a temporary halt to President Joe Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees.

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The three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued the brief ruling, saying the petitioners “give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the mandate,” The New York Times reported.

The order was signed by a deputy clerk and said the rule was suspended “pending further action by this court,” the newspaper reported.

Earlier this week, the Biden administration announced that it would require businesses with 100 or more workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to regular testing by Jan. 4. The administration announced that it would issue the law through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in September.

OSHA’s rule includes sending agents to inspect businesses to determine if they are abiding by the mandate, The Hill reported. A business found to be in violation could be fined up to $136,532, the news organization reported.

The mandate was expected to cover 84 million workers, the Times reported. Approximately 31 million of those workers are not vaccinated, the newspaper reported.

At least 26 states have opposed the administration’s mandate, and several groups of states filed four challenges to the OSHA rule.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said the action stops Biden “from moving forward with his unlawful overreach.”

>> Coronavirus: Federal vaccine mandate for businesses, health care workers to take effect Jan. 4

“The president will not impose medical procedures on the American people without the checks and balances afforded by the constitution,” Landry said in a statement.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton celebrated the legal victory on Twitter, with Texas having Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah in their coalition to fight back against the mandate.

“Yesterday, I sued the Biden administration over its unlawful OSHA vax mandate,” Paxton tweeted. “We won. Just this morning, citing ‘grave statutory and constitutional issues,’ the 5th Circuit stayed the mandate. The fight is not over and I will never stop resisting this administration’s unconstitutional overreach.”

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 mandate, according to the Times.

“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 stated. “We are fully prepared to defend this standard in court.”

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