Appeals court considers Biden administration request to vacate employer vaccination injunction

By William Patrick, The Center Square

A federal appeals court in Ohio will consider a Biden administration court filing aimed at dissolving a nationwide injunction that derailed the administration’s COVID-19 private employer vaccination mandate.

Friday’s filing was a response to a Louisiana businessman’s motion to shoot down the government’s attempt to vacate a Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in November, when the New Orleans court halted the vaccination mandate over “grave statutory and constitutional issues.”

“The mandate is a one-size-fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces (and workers),” the ruling said.

The businessman, Brandon Trosclair of Ascension Parish, is represented by the New Orleans-based Pelican Institute and the Liberty Justice Center, a public interest law firm. Attorneys for Trosclair filed a motion this week to reject the administration’s emergency request to lift the Fifth Circuit injunction.

Trosclair’s case, BST Holdings LLC et al. v. OSHA, and other vaccination mandate challenges occurring in multiple circuit court jurisdictions have been consolidated in the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

A Sixth Circuit ruling was expected shortly after the Biden administration’s Friday court filing.

President Joe Biden’s workplace vaccination mandate was implemented through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and would have required private employers with 100 or more employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing by Jan. 4.

The policy also would impose nearly $14,000 in fines per employee for businesses that do not comply.

“While I would have much preferred that requirements not become necessary, too many people remain unvaccinated for us to get out of this pandemic for good,” Biden said upon announcing the mandate in September.

After the Fifth Circuit’s nationwide injunction, the administration argued “the COVID-19 virus is both a physically harmful agent and a new hazard,” which allows OSHA, a workplace safety agency, to enforce vaccinations and testing regimens.

“OSHA’s detailed analysis of the (mandate’s) impact shows that a stay would likely cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day,” the administration argued.

Trosclair’s attorneys reiterated this week OSHA is attempting to act beyond its delegated authority, saying, “Congress did not grant the Occupational Safety and Health Administration such sweeping powers in its authorizing statute.”

An 11-state coalition sued the administration in the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, seven states sued in the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and three states sued in the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Fifth Circuit in New Orleans was the first court to issue a ruling, which combined Trosclair’s case with multiple petitioners, including the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

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