U.S. President Joe Biden speaks in the Eisenhower Executive Office building in Washington, DC, the United States on Thursday, October 14, 2021.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Biden administration on Tuesday asked a federal appeals court to immediately lift an order ending its vaccine and Covid testing requirements for private companies, warning that delaying implementation of the policy would cost lives and would lead to an increase in hospitalizations.
The Justice Department told the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that “the threat to workers is continuous and overwhelming” as offices reopen and the highly transmissible delta variant spreads.
“Put simply, delaying the standard would likely cost many lives a day, in addition to a large number of hospitalizations, other serious health effects and huge expenses. It is a confluence of primary harms. order, “said the Ministry of Justice in his movement.
The Biden administration has asked the court to at least allow the masking and testing requirements for unvaccinated workers to remain in effect as an interim measure while the litigation unfolds.
“While vaccination is the most effective way to mitigate the serious danger of COVID-19 in the workplace, masking and testing for unvaccinated employees is a reasonably effective alternative,” the administration told the court.
The United States reports about 95,000 new infections a day on average, a 14% increase from the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In the United States, more than 1,100 people die on average each day from the virus, according to Hopkins.
About 50,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with Covid-19, according to a seven-day average of Department of Health and Human Services data through Monday, up 6% from last week.
The Biden administration was forced to suspend the implementation and enforcement of its vaccination and testing policy in response to an order from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, one of the courts most conservative appeal in the country. Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, in an opinion for a three-judge panel, said the policy was “fatally flawed” and “incredibly too broad”, raising “serious constitutional concerns”.
More than two dozen lawsuits have been filed against the Biden policy. Republican attorneys general, private businesses and industry groups such as the National Retail Federation, the American Trucking Associations and the National Federation of Independent Business want the requirements overturned. Unions have taken legal action to ask courts to expand requirements to cover small businesses and protect more workers.
Those lawsuits were transferred to the Sixth Circuit last week after the Biden administration asked a multi-district litigation panel to consolidate cases in a single court by random selection. The Biden administration is now asking the Ohio-based Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to end the recess ordered by Louisiana’s Fifth Circuit.
The Justice Department, in its motion on Tuesday, dismissed the Fifth Circuit’s constitutional concerns as “unfounded”, arguing that requiring companies to protect employees from workplace hazards does not go beyond the authority of the federal government under the trade clause of the Constitution.
The Biden administration also told the Sixth Circuit that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which made the rules under the emergency powers, did well within its authority under the law established by Congress.
OSHA, which oversees workplace safety for the Department of Labor, may shorten the normal rule-making process if the Secretary of Labor determines that a new workplace safety standard is needed to protect workers from a serious danger. The White House has repeatedly said the virus clearly poses a serious danger to workers, highlighting the staggering death toll and high rates of transmission across the country.
Biden’s policy required companies with 100 or more employees to ensure their staff were vaccinated or underwent weekly Covid tests by January 4. Unvaccinated employees were to start wearing masks indoors at the workplace from December 5.
Regardless of the Sixth Circuit ruling, legal experts believe the case will eventually end up in the Supreme Court.