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'A Stay is Firmly in the Public Interest': US Appeals Court Orders a Hold on Biden's COVID Vaccine Mandate

Image Source:  (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Image Source: (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

A federal appeals court ruled Friday to keep its block on the Biden administration's vaccine mandate that all large businesses require their employees to get vaccinated. 

The three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that "a stay is firmly in the public interest" as the number of lawsuits against the measure increases.

The judges ruled that the mandate is "fatally flawed", "staggeringly overbroad", and raises "serious constitutional concerns".

"From economic uncertainty to workplace strife, the mere specter of the Mandate has contributed to untold economic upheaval in recent months," the 22-page ruling reads. "IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that OSHA take no steps to implement or enforce the mandate until further court order."

Biden's order would have gone into effect on Jan. 4 under an emergency temporary standard from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

It calls for businesses to either require vaccinations – or – weekly testing for unvaccinated employees, and employees would pay for those tests.

Businesses that don't find a way to enforce the mandate will face a $14,000 fine per violation, which would increase with repeat offenses.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, one of the first to sue the Biden administration over the mandate, celebrated the court's decision on Twitter.

"Citing Texas' 'compelling argument(s),' the 5th Circuit has delayed OSHA's unconstitutional and illegal private-business vaccine mandate. WE WON! Litigation will continue, but this is a massive victory for Texas and for FREEDOM from Biden's tyranny and lawlessness," Paxton wrote.

At least 27 states have filed lawsuits in federal appeals courts after OSHA issued its rules on Nov. 4. 

Some point out that while the mandate is supposed to be an "emergency" rule, it doesn't take effect until January, about four months after President Biden announced it. For that reason, they question how it can be called an "emergency." 

Opponents also note that COVID-19 cases have declined from a recent wave in September and that the U.S. is nearing herd immunity. 

Justice Department spokeswoman, Dena Iverson said the Biden administration would continue to uphold the mandate throughout the duration of its legal challenges.

"Today's decision is just the beginning of the process for review of this important OSHA standard," she said in a statement. "The department will continue to vigorously defend the standard and looks forward to obtaining a definitive resolution following consolidation of all of the pending cases for further review."

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