Biden admin seeks reversal of appeal court’s stay blocking OSHA vaccine mandate

President Joe Biden attracted widespread criticism after announcing his intention to mandate COVID-19 vaccines or weekly testing for employees of businesses with more than 100 workers.

When the Occupational Safety and Health Administration enacted a rule earlier this month to achieve that goal, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay that blocked it from going into effect — but now the Biden administration is pushing for that ruling to be overturned.

“Ongoing and overwhelming”

The latest request comes as dozens of legal challenges from across the United States have been consolidated into a single case being presented to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a 55-page emergency motion to dissolve the stay, lawyers for the Biden administration argued that the 5th Circuit Court got it wrong and that the OSHA mandate is a vital step to save lives.

“Delaying this standard would endanger many thousands of people and would likely cost many lives per day,” the attorneys wrote. “With the reopening of workplaces and the emergence of the highly transmissible Delta variant, the threat to workers is ongoing and overwhelming.”

The Biden team further argued that the pandemic constituted an emergency situation justifying the temporary mandate imposed by the OSHA rule and that the 6th Circuit Court should act swiftly to reverse the earlier ruling, thus allowing the mandate to go into effect.

Of course, the OSHA mandate was not supposed to go into effect until early next year.

“Encouraging companies to take steps”

Nevertheless, the emergency brief asserted that many plaintiffs in the case could show no real harm from the mandate and were therefore not entitled to relief from the courts.

Attorneys for the administration accused the 5th Circuit of selectively interpreting OSHA statutes in question, insisting that the agency had all requisite authority delegated by Congress to impose its rule on private businesses.

Even if the 6th Circuit opted not to lift the stay, attorneys advised that it should at least modify the earlier ruling to allow OSHA to impose weekly testing and mask mandates in the interim.

As recently as Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki implied that the Biden administration wants businesses to ignore the court’s stay and implement vaccine mandates on their own.

“There is a stay, as you noted,” she told one reporter. “Obviously, that will be litigated through the process. But, you know, we are still encouraging companies to take steps to protect their workforce, and many are.”

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