President Joe Biden speaks about COVID-19 vaccines at the White House in Washington, D.C., August 23, 2021. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
In a Friday-evening decision, a federal appeals court affirmed its stay of the Biden administration’s vaccine requirement for private businesses, blasting the sweeping nature of the mandate.
In the opinion, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judges Kurt D. Engelhardt, Edith H. Jones, and Stuart Kyle Duncan excoriated President Biden’s order as a broad overstepping of constitutional power and use of legal gymnastics. While the government claims the mandate derives its authority from a 1970s occupational-health-and-safety statute, the court argued that it “grossly exceeds OSHA’s statutory authority.”
Their decision asserted that, in the name of addressing what it posits is an emergency health peril, the mandate wrongfully lumps every workplace and worker into the same category. In reality, the judges noted, there are various risk levels for COVID among different demographics.
“Rather than a delicately handled scalpel, the Mandate is a one-size-fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces (and workers) that have more than a little bearing on workers’ varying degrees of susceptibility to the supposedly ‘grave danger’ the Mandate purports to address,” the judges wrote.
By making employers responsible for enforcement, the judges said that the mandate will inflict financial harm on private companies with over 100 employees, heavily penalizing entities that don’t comply and forcing them to dismiss significant numbers of their labor force to avoid these fines.
The judges added that “the Mandate imposes a financial burden upon them by deputizing their participation in OSHA’s regulatory scheme, exposes them to severe financial risk if they refuse or fail to comply, and threatens to decimate their workforces (and business prospects) by forcing unwilling employees to take their shots, take their tests, or hit the road.”
The court’s decision on Friday comes after it issued a temporary halt to the mandate last week and agreed to review it on an expedited basis “because the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate, the Mandate is hereby STAYED pending further action by this court.”
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