Federal appeals court allows Biden vaccine mandate for large companies to resume

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The decision is the latest event in a continuing battle that will likely be decided by the Supreme Court

A federal appeals court Friday reinstated the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for large companies, dissolving a stay by a separate court that had suspended the mandate. 

The decision is the latest skirmish in a continuing battle that will likely soon be decided by the Supreme Court

The Biden vaccine mandate forces companies with 100 employees or more to require that their workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing. The requirement trades effect Jan. 4, 2022.

In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of the U.S. Appeals Court for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the Biden administration could enforce the policy using the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“Recognizing that the ‘old normal’ is not going to return, employers and employees have sought new models for a workplace that will protect the safety and health of employees who earn their living there,” wrote Judge Jane Branstetter Stranch, a Barack Obama appointee, for the majority. “In need of guidance on how to protect their employees from COVID-19 transmission while reopening business, employers turned to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”

The rule establishing the mandate had prompted a slate of legal challenges from at least 27 states as well as business and religious groups that argued the mandate is unconstitutional.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Nov. 12 ordered OSHA to “take no steps to implement or enforce the Mandate until further court order,” reaffirming an earlier decision it had made. The court said the mandate exposes the petitioners “to severe financial risk” and “threatens to decimate their workforces (and business prospects).”

By Keith Koffle

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