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The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals halts fed vaccine mandate on big businesses

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Posted at 8:09 PM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-12 22:05:25-05

NEW ORLEANS — Late Friday, a panel of judges with The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals doubled down on their decision to pause a federal vaccine mandate on bigger businesses.

This comes after Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry , some states, businesses, and legal groups filed a lawsuit to halt the Biden administration's attempt to mandate vaccines on businesses with 100 or more workers.

"The Court’s action not only halts Biden from moving forward with his unlawful overreach, but it also commands the judicious review we sought," Landry states. "The President will not impose medical procedures on the American people without the checks and balances afforded by the Constitution," Landry stated on his Nov. 6 press release.

Other states like: Texas, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Utah joined in on that suit, as well as business owners.

Brandon Trosclair, who employs nearly 500 people across 15 grocery stores in Louisiana and Mississippi said, "Today’s ruling marks a tremendous success because the court recognizes how this mandate would impair our liberty and infringe on our constitutional rights. I am proud to be in this fight on behalf of not just my employees, but all Americans. It's wrong for the federal government to order me to interfere in the private medical decisions of my team members or to impose insurmountable costs on my businesses. I look forward to taking my fight all the way to the Highest Court.”

According to The Washington Post article: Calling the requirement a “mandate,” the court said the rule, instituted through the Labor Department, “grossly exceeds OSHA’s statutory authority,” according to the opinion, written by Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt and joined by Judges Edith H. Jones and Stuart Kyle Duncan.

“Rather than a delicately handled scalpel, the Mandate is a one-size fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces (and workers) that have more than a little bearing on workers’ varying degrees of susceptibility to the supposedly ‘grave danger’ the Mandate purports to address,” they wrote.

They said they believed that the ruling imposed a financial burden on businesses and potentially violated the commerce clause of the Constitution.

“The Mandate imposes a financial burden upon them by deputizing their participation in OSHA’s regulatory scheme, exposes them to severe financial risk if they refuse or fail to comply, and threatens to decimate their work-forces (and business prospects) by forcing unwilling employees to take their shots, take their tests, or hit the road,” they wrote.

In the order, the three-judge panel from the Fifth Circuit said:

  • “The Mandate threatens to substantially burden the liberty interests of reluctant individual recipients put to a choice between their job(s) and their jab(s). 
  • "The Mandate’s stated impetus—a purported ‘emergency’ that the entire globe has now endured for nearly two years, and which OSHA itself spent nearly two months responding to—is unavailing as well.”
  • It “is critical to note that the Mandate makes no serious attempt to explain why OSHA and the President himself were against vaccine mandates before they were for one here.”
  • “OSHA’s attempt to shoehorn an airborne virus that is both widely present in society (and thus not particular to any workplace) and non-life-threatening to a vast majority of employees into a neighboring phrase connoting toxicity and poisonous is yet another transparent stretch.”
  • “health agencies do not make housing policy, and occupational safety administrations do not make health policy”
  • “the petitioners’ motion for a stay pending review is GRANTED. Enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s “COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing; Emergency Temporary Standard” remains STAYED pending adequate judicial review of the petitioners’ underlying motions for a permanent injunction. In addition, IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that OSHA take no steps to implement or enforce the Mandate until further court order.”

The court halted the policy, scheduled to take effect Jan. 4, and ordered the Occupational Safety and Health Administration not to take further steps to implement or enforce the mandate. It is not clear whether the 5th Circuit will determine the fate of the mandate. The Biden administration had asked the 5th Circuit to hold off on ruling until a judicial lottery can take place next week to consolidate several challenges to the mandate before a single appeals court.

The Fifth Circuit's order granting the motion to stay effectively halting the vaccine mandate is here:

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