The Biden administration in a filing Monday night said it has the legal authority to require COVID-19 vaccinations or testing for larger companies, and states and Republican companies defying the law have not shown that their claims outweigh the harms. to stop the rule.
In a filing with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which temporarily blocked the mandate with a national suspension last week, the Justice Department said the rule was firmly grounded in law and necessary to keep people safe.
Stopping the mandate from taking effect “would likely cost tens or even hundreds of lives per day,” the Justice Department wrote. “The injuries reported by the petitioners, by contrast, are speculative and remote and do not outweigh an interest in protecting employees from a dangerous virus as this case progresses.”
The Justice Department was responding to the court ruling on Saturday, when a three-judge panel issued a stay of the rule, citing “serious statutory and constitutional issues.” The three judges on the panel were appointed by Republican presidents.
The rule was issued last week by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, under its emergency authority. The rule would force companies with at least 100 employees to require that unvaccinated employees wear masks indoors starting December 5 and then undergo weekly testing if they remain unvaccinated by January 4.
Federal law gives OSHA the authority to issue a temporary emergency standard if it determines that workers are exposed to a “serious hazard” that requires a rule. However, states and private companies argued that COVID-19 is not a specific “serious hazard” to the workplace, and the rule is an illegal overreach of federal power.
The DOJ also argued that challenges do not need to be addressed immediately, because there is a congressional-mandated process for judicial review of OSHA standards. Since the challenges were filed in separate courts, there will be a lottery on November 16 to determine which court will hear the lawsuit.
The DOJ argued that the Nov.16 date means that the process will unfold well before the first deadline for employees to be vaccinated, meaning that there is no possible harm being done at this time. allowing enough time for preliminary motions.
“Of course, it would be inappropriate to fully adjudicate pending petitions before the multi-circuit lottery occurs or the administrative record is filed,” the DOJ wrote. “[C]Our actions must not resolve these challenges conclusively during the ten-day period prior to consolidation. “
On Monday, the White House urged companies to move forward with implementing rules for coronavirus vaccines even as court battles unfold.
“We believe that people should not wait,” said the White House deputy press secretary. Karine Jean-PierreKarine Jean-Pierre Overnight Health Care – Presented by Rare Access Action Project – White House Unaffected by On The Money Mandate Ruling – White House Delves into Vaccine Mandate Republican Says Republican Party Should Block government funding on vaccine mandates MORE he told reporters on Monday. “We say, don’t wait to take action that will keep your workplace safe. It is important and critical to do so and waiting for more people to get vaccinated will lead to more outbreaks and illnesses. “