A federal appeals court should reject the Biden administration’s bid to lift a block on its private-employer COVID-19 vaccine mandate, businesses said in a new filing.
Instead, the court was told it should broaden the stay to ensure the administration stops “strong-arming” businesses to comply with the mandate.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit earlier this month temporarily blocked the mandate, which was promulgated by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and applied to every business with 100 or more workers in the country. The panel said there were “grave statutory and constitutional issues” with the mandate.
The case is now being decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which will decide whether to keep the stay in place or remove it while proceedings go on.
The Biden administration on Nov. 23 asked for the latter, insisting delaying the mandate would “cost many lives per day, in addition to large numbers of hospitalizations, other serious health effects, and tremendous expenses.”
OSHA, government lawyers argued, has the statutory authority to issue a mandate through the Occupational and Safety Health Act.
Businesses that challenged the mandate disagree. They’re asking the court to expand the stay.
OSHA on Nov. 17 suspended the mandate because of the block, but Biden administration officials have continued urging businesses to require vaccination and said that they’re not adjusting their timeline—the deadline for compliance is Jan. 4, 2022—acting as if they’ll ultimately win in court.
“The White House insists on strong-arming compliance with the mandate despite it being stayed,” businesses, including the Job Creators Network, told the court in a filing later Tuesday.
“The government has courted contempt by repeatedly insisting that it still expects private companies to comply with the vaccine mandate, including its ultimate January 4 deadline, despite the fact that the Fifth Circuit stayed the mandate almost the moment it was issued. The goal is clear: an in terrorem campaign designed to confuse the general public and convince them that they must comply with a Mandate that is not actually in effect,” they added.
The court was asked to broaden the stay to make it clear the government cannot force businesses to impose vaccination requirements.
The network previously sent a warning letter to Biden and filed a request with the court to speed consideration of the mandate because of the White House’s statements.
Parties interested in filing similar motions were told by the court that they can do so up until Nov. 30. Responses to those filings will be due by Dec. 7. Replies to the responses can be filed until Dec. 10.
No oral arguments have been scheduled yet.