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Biden files emergency motion to restore vaccine mandate

Art Mooore

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'A one-size-fits-all sledgehammer'

The Biden administration filed an emergency order Tuesday to reinstate its vaccine mandate on private companies after an appeals court blocked it, suspending enforcement.

Earlier this month, the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans order a pause on the order issued under President Biden's direction by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The motion Tuesday by the Justice Department was filed with the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The Sixth Circuit was designated last week by a federal judicial panel to decide legal challenges related to the private vaccine mandate. The court has the authority to grant the administration's request to dissolve the Fifth Circuit's stay.

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The DOJ argued the OSHA rules reflect the agency's "judgment that these measures are necessary to mitigate COVID-19 transmission in the workplace, and the grievous harms the virus inflicts on workers."

Lawsuits against the order -- which requires companies with 100 or more workers to ensure all employees are vaccinated or tested regularly -- have been filed by a number of Republican-led states, employers, unions and private organizations.

In general, the lawsuits contend OSHA is engaged in unconstitutional government overreach in the private sector. Workers, according to the rule, must get vaccinated by Jan. 4 or be tested weekly at their own cost and wear a mask at work.

Employers face fines of up to $13,653 per violation or $136,532 for repeat offenders or those determined to be intentionally flouting the rule.

An estimated 84 million workers at businesses with 100 or more employees are affected.

At the Fifth Circuit, Judge Kurt Engelhardt wrote that he had "grave" concerns that the rule is constitutional.

"The mandate is staggeringly overbroad, he wrote in the majority opinion. "The mandate is a one-size-fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces (and workers)."

The Justice Department has vowed to "vigorously defend" the mandate.

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