The Biden administration has asked a federal court to reinstate a workplace vaccine mandate that was put on hold earlier this month.
“Delaying this standard would endanger many thousands of people and would likely cost many lives per day,” government lawyers argued. “With the reopening of workplaces and the emergence of the highly transmissible Delta variant, the threat to workers is ongoing and overwhelming.”
The 55-page submission was filed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) late last night.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit kept the block against the mandate in place, ruling that the rule “grossly exceeds” OSHA’s authority.
“From economic uncertainty to workplace strife, the mere specter of the mandate has contributed to untold economic upheaval in recent months,” Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt wrote, a sign that the court viewed the mandate as a sign of government overreach.
“Of course, the principles at stake when it comes to the mandate are not reducible to dollars and cents. The public interest is also served by maintaining our constitutional structure and maintaining the liberty of individuals to make intensely personal decisions according to their own convictions — even, or perhaps particularly, when those decisions frustrate government officials,” he added.
President Joe Biden has defended his administration’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate for businesses, saying that they will be good for the economy as a whole and not lead to worker shortages.
The mandate applies to businesses with at least 100 employees and would have gone into effect on January 4, according to the Department of Labor (DOL), had it not become ensnared in legal battles.
“As we’ve seen with businesses – large and small – across all sectors of our economy, the overwhelming majority of Americans choose to get vaccinated,” Biden said in a statement earlier this month. “There have been no ‘mass firings’ and worker shortages because of vaccination requirements. Despite what some predicted and falsely assert, vaccination requirements have broad public support.”
“Businesses have more power than ever before to accelerate our path out of this pandemic, save lives, and protect our economic recovery,” he added. “Vaccination requirements are good for the economy. They not only increase vaccination rates but they help send people back to work – as many as 5 million American workers. They make our economy more resilient in the face of COVID and keep our businesses open.”
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.