Biden Administration Urges Courts Not to Block Vaccine Mandate

The Labor Department says refusal to implement mandate would costs hundreds of lives a day.

November 09, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccines

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Labor Department has submitted a 28-page filing to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which seeks to get the vaccine mandate back on track after the court granted an emergency stay temporarily halting enforcement of the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private employers, citing “grave statutory and constitutional issues.”

The filing states that halting the mandate “would likely cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day, in addition to large numbers of hospitalizations, other serious health effects, and tremendous costs,” the Justice Department said in its filing. “That is a confluence of harms of the highest order.”

Last week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today issued a requirement that employers with 100 or more employees mandate that all of their employees be fully vaccinated no later than January 4, 2022, or implement a policy allowing for weekly testing.

The Biden Administration urged businesses not to wait to get their workplaces vaccinated. 

“We think people should not wait,” White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday. “We say, do not wait to take actions that will keep your workplace safe. It is important and critical to do and waiting to get more people vaccinated will lead to more outbreaks and sickness.”

“We’re trying to get past this pandemic, and we know the way to do that is to get people vaccinated,” Jean-Pierre added.

Jean-Pierre said that the administration “clearly has the authority to protect workers,” and that the Justice Department would be defending the rule in court.

More than two dozen states, private businesses, trade groups and religious organizations have sued, calling the rule issued by OSHA an overreach of government authority, reports NPR. OSHA doesn’t have the authority to rule over a society-wide health concern, say the states and businesses, and they add the timing of rule is suspect, as it is being implemented 18 months after the start of the pandemic after many businesses have already implemented safety measures and COVID-19 cases are falling.

The OSHA mandate has been challenged in multiple courts, including the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 11th and D.C. Circuits. According to federal law, the cases will be consolidated and heard by one federal appeals court, chosen by lottery. That lottery could take place on or around Nov. 16, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Ultimately, the case could end up at the Supreme Court.