On Monday, the White House said businesses can proceed with the President’s vaccine and testing requirements for private businesses. This is despite the order by the federal appeals court that vaccine testing and rules should be temporarily halted.
The U.S. Court of Appeal for the 5th Circuit halted the requirements on Saturday pending review, writing that “the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate.”
The Republican attorney generals and several companies requested the pause, claiming that the requirements exceed the authority of the agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, designated to enforce the mandate while arguing that this would amount to an unconstitutional delegation of power to the executive branch.
What this means
The agency, OSHA, which ensures workplace safety for the Labour Department developed the vaccine and testing requirements under the emergency authority established by Congress and that authority allows the agency to shortcut the process to issue workplace safety standards, which normally takes years.
The Biden administration responded by asking the court to lift the pause claiming that pausing the requirements “would likely cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day” as the virus spreads. The Labour and Justice Departments also argued that OSHA acted within its authority as established by Congress.
The requirements for businesses with 100 or more employees include ensuring all staff have received the shots required for full vaccination latest by January 4th, 2022, after which unvaccinated workers will be required to submit a weekly negative Covid-19 test to gain access to the workplace.
From December 5, 2021, all unvaccinated workers must start wearing face masks indoors at their workplaces.
At least 26 Republican attorneys general in different states have challenged the President’s vaccine and testing requirements in five different U.S. Appeal Courts. In addition, the Republican National Committee has said it has also challenged the requirements in the D.C Court of Appeal.
OSHA emergency workplace safety standards have a mixed track record in court. Prior to the vaccine requirements, the agency had issued 10 such standards in its 50-year history. Courts halted or overturned four of those standards, and a fifth was partially vacated.
A professor of law at Georgetown University, David Vladeck, has said that there’s a “high probability” that the case will end up before the Supreme Court.