The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the suspension of “activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS pending future developments in the litigation.” The Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) allows for OSHA’s enforcement of the Biden administration’s controversial vaccine mandate among employers with 100 employees or more, with an alternative of routine testing and mask-wearing for those who opt not to be vaccinated. OSHA’s announcement came as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted a stay to the federal mandate and ordered that OSHA “take no steps to implement or enforce the Mandate until further court order,” pending further legal review.
While the court’s ruling does not provide a final decision on the legality of Biden’s coercive mandate, it does seem to validate the concerns raised by petitioners. The court’s ruling offered acknowledgment of the financial burden imposed on private employers covered by the mandate, exposing them to “severe financial risk,” should they either refuse to comply with the mandate or enforce it and lose valuable employees. The ruling further stated the historical role of OSHA in ensuring workers a safe workplace environment and outlined the appropriate qualifications for OSHA’s enforcement of the administration’s vaccine mandate.
In addition to the concerns represented by private companies, states also “have an interest in seeing their constitutionally reserved police power over public health policy defended from federal overreach.” The Denver Gazette reports that 27 states have filed lawsuits in response to the mandate covering the private sector. Additionally, 18 states have sued the Biden administration and other government agencies over mandates impacting federal employees and contractors, and 10 states sued in district courts over mandates imposed on health care workers.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said of Texas’s lawsuit, “The federal government does not have the ability to strip individuals of their choice to get a vaccine or not. If the President thinks his patience is wearing thin, he is clearly underestimating the lack of patience from Texans whose rights he is infringing.” This holds true for many of those challenging the constitutionality of Biden’s mandate.
While OSHA cannot enforce the ETS for now, challenges to the constitutionality of Biden’s mandate are being gathered for further review by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Composed of a panel of mostly Republican-appointed judges, some on the Left begin to wonder if OSHA’s role in doing Biden’s bidding will pass muster.