Federal Appeals Court Puts Biden Mandate Back in Play

6th US Circuit Court of Appeals frees up vaccine, testing rule for businesses with 100-plus workers
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2021 7:45 AM CST
Federal Appeals Court Puts Biden Mandate Back in Play
President Biden meets with members of the White House COVID-19 Response Team in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

As some states continue to push back on the Biden administration's vaccine mandate for private employers, the president saw a victory on that front Friday after a federal appeals court reinstated the vaccine and testing requirement for businesses, reports CNBC. The ruling by the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals effectively nixes an injunction from November that stymied the Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandate for employers with 100 workers or more.

In its decision, the three-judge appeals panel noted that OSHA "demonstrated the pervasive danger that COVID-19 poses to workers—unvaccinated workers in particular—in their workplaces," and that the agency has the authority, and precedent, to take bold moves like this to keep employees safe. "The harm to the Government and the public interest outweighs any irreparable injury to the individual Petitioners who may be subject to a vaccination policy," wrote Judge Jane Stranch in the ruling, per Axios.

The mandate requires that employees at qualifying workplaces either have to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4 or agree to test weekly for COVID. Those who remain unvaxxed will also now have to wear a mask indoors. Employers who don't adhere to the mandate, which covers about 80 million US workers, can see federal fines that start at $14,000 per violation.

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The case, which involves more than two dozen lawsuits fighting the mandate, was transferred to this court in November from the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which had ordered implementation and enforcement of the order to be halted. The three-judge panel had said at the time that the mandate was "staggeringly overbroad," and perhaps unconstitutional, assertions agreed to by many in conservative circles and industry groups. (More vaccine mandate stories.)

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