The Biden administration on early Tuesday asked the U.S. Sixth Court of Appeals to reject an order from another federal appeals court and reinstate its Occupational Safety and Health Administration vaccine mandate for private businesses with 100 or more workers.
Several lawsuits that challenge the OSHA rule, known as an emergency temporary standard, were combined into one and sent to the Cincinnati, Ohio-based Sixth Circuit Court, of which 11 of 16 judges are Republican appointees.
Two days after OSHA published the rule, scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 4, the Louisiana-based U.S. Fifth Court of Appeals issued an order blocking the mandate. And last week, in a scathing ruling, the panel of judges on the appeals court reaffirmed their previous injunction and wrote that the mandate will likely be declared unconstitutional.
Overnight on Tuesday, the Biden administration filed court papers (pdf) arguing that the Fifth Circuit panel erroneously interpreted OSHA mandate, saying that “the speculative compliance costs and similar harms asserted by regulated parties cannot overcome the extraordinary harms to the public interest detailed above.”
“Simply put, delaying the standard would likely cost many lives per day, in addition to large numbers of hospitalizations, other serious health effects, and tremendous expenses,” White House lawyers alleged in the new filing.
“That is a confluence of harms of the highest order.”
Further, the administration argued that the Fifth Circuit’s assertion that the mandate would deal significant economic damage to the United States is incorrect. COVID-19-related outbreaks, Biden administration lawyers contend, have forced shutdowns of businesses and various institutions, although numerous studies have shown that fully vaccinated individuals play a relevant role in spreading COVID-19—not simply unvaccinated people.