Biden vaccine mandate legal battle heads to federal appeals court with GOP-appointed majority

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  • More than two dozen lawsuits challenging President Joe Biden’s vaccine and testing requirements were consolidated in the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Tuesday.
  • Former Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump appointed 11 of the 16 judges on the bench, while Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama appointed five.
  • The Sixth Circuit will now decide whether to permanently halt the Biden administration policy.

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A federal appeals court with a GOP-appointed majority will decide the fate of President Joe Biden’s vaccine and testing requirements for private businesses, casting further doubts on the existence of a policy the White House says for the fight against COVID-19. is central.

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More than two dozen lawsuits challenging Biden policy were consolidated into one in the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Tuesday. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump appointed 11 of the 16 judges on the bench, while Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama appointed five.

The case against the Biden administration’s policy will be heard before a three-judge panel, but is widely expected to be decided eventually by the Supreme Court.

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The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had already delayed vaccine and testing requirements while it reviews their legal status. Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, in an opinion released Friday, said the policy was “seriously flawed” and raised serious constitutional concerns.

However, the Biden administration on Tuesday filed a request for the multi-district litigation panel to consolidate the lawsuits into a single court through random selection.

The Sixth Circuit will now decide whether to permanently withhold the new workplace safety rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Republican attorney generals in at least 26 states filed lawsuits against vaccine and testing requirements, as did private companies and major industry groups such as the National Retail Federation, the American Trucking Association, and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Meanwhile, labor unions are suing to expand the requirements to cover small businesses. United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union filed the petition last week.

The Biden administration warned in its response before the Fifth Circuit last week that curbing the requirements would “cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day” as the Covid spread. The White House has repeatedly said the virus poses a serious threat to workers, pointing to staggering deaths and high rates of transmission in counties across the US.

The Department of Labor and Justice has maintained that OSHA, which issued the new rules, acted well within its authority established by Congress.

Under the policy, businesses with 100 or more employees have until January 4 to ensure that their employees are fully vaccinated with two shots of Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines or the J&K vaccine . Thereafter, non-vaccinated employees must submit a negative COVID test weekly to enter the workplace. Non-vaccinated workers should start wearing masks indoors at the workplace from 5 December.

OSHA issued the vaccine and testing requirements through a little-used emergency authorization, which allows the agency to shortcut the general rule-making process if the Secretary of Labor sets a new workplace safety standard that allows workers to necessary to protect against serious danger.

Before the pandemic, OSHA had not issued an emergency safety standard since 1983. Courts have halted or reversed four of 10 emergency standards issued by the agency before vaccine and testing requirements. The fifth such standard was partially vacated.

David Vladeck, a law professor at Georgetown University, told CNBC that there is a “high probability” that the case could eventually end up before the Supreme Court, where there is a conservative majority.

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