A federal appeals court in Louisiana has blocked the Biden administration’s latest COVID-19 vaccination mandate, giving the government until Monday afternoon to submit a response.
An emergency stay, issued Saturday from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, prevents the White House from requiring all full and part-time workers at private-sector companies with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated or get tested weekly and wear face masks.
In its decision, the court cited “grave statutory and constitutional” concerns about the government’s mandate, which is scheduled to take effect on January 4.
The mandate — issued Thursday under a new rule by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) — would apply to some 84 million Americans.
It has been challenged in court by more than two dozen states, including Texas, Missouri and Louisiana.
Employers who don’t comply could face fines of up to $14,000 per infraction, according to the government’s guidelines.
“We will have our day in court to strike down Biden’s unconstitutional abuse of authority,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted after news of the stay was announced Saturday afternoon.
A petition filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and representing 10 other states, declared the vaccine mandate is “unconstitutional, unlawful and unwise.”
It also challenges OSHA authority, claiming the agency does not have the jurisdiction to implement the regulations.
“Its unlawful mandate will cause injuries and hardship to working families, inflict economic disruption and staffing shortages on the states and private employers,” reads the petition.
In September, the president promised to impose a flurry of vaccine mandates after the Delta variant led to a spike in COVID-19 infections, ending what Biden called the “summer of freedom” from the deadly virus.
“A distinct minority of Americans supported by a distinct minority of elected officials are keeping us from turning the corner,” Biden said in a White House address. “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us.”
The government has until Monday at 5 pm to challenge the stay.
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