On Friday, a federal appeals court allowed larger private employers to advance President Joe Biden’s mandate for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Judgment 2-1 by the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals panel overturns a federal judge’s decision in a separate court that suspended mandates nationwide.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rule was due to take effect on January 4th. With Friday’s ruling, it is unclear when this requirement could be enacted.
Republican-led states joined conservative groups, business associations and some individual businesses to oppose the demand as soon as OSHA published the rules in early November. They argued that OSHA was not authorized to declare a state of emergency.
The case was heard in the 6th District of Cincinnati, which is dominated by Republican-appointed judges. Of the two decisions in favor of the OSHA mandate, one was nominated by a Democrat president and the other by a Republican. The dissenting judge was appointed by former President Donald Trump.
“Given OSHA’s clear and enforceable mandate to regulate viruses, OSHA necessarily has the power to regulate infectious diseases that are not unique to the workplace,” Judge Julia Smith Gibbons wrote in her majority opinion.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said she will ask the US Supreme Court to block the ruling.
“The Sixth District’s decision is extremely disappointing for Arkansans because it will cause them to get an injection or lose their jobs,” she said.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, who is also chairman of the Republican Association of Attorneys General, tweeted Friday that he is confident the mandate could be terminated.
The vaccine requirement will apply to companies with 100 or more employees and reach about 84 million workers. Employees who are not fully vaccinated will be required to wear masks and have weekly coronavirus tests. There will be exceptions for those who work outside or only at home.
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