Millions of medical professionals in the United States are scheduled to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by this coming Monday, in accordance with a mandate issued by the administration of President Joe Biden. Thanks to litigation, they won’t have to worry about it, at least not for now.
The same goes for the January 4 deadline set by the administration for businesses with at least 100 employees to ensure that their employees are vaccinated or tested for the virus weekly.
Judges, in response to lawsuits filed by Republican states, companies and other opponents, have blocked some of Biden’s most radical initiatives to boost vaccination rates. A host of other legal issues are pending challenging the Democratic president’s vaccine requirements for federal employees, contractors, and military personnel, as well as mask requirements for people using public transportation.
More than four fifths of the country’s adult population have already received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. But Biden says his various assignments to vaccinate employees are an important step in the fight against the virus, which has killed more than 780,000 people in the United States.
Opponents took a three-tiered approach to contesting Biden’s claims. In lawsuits, they argue that vaccine prescriptions were imposed without due public comment, not sanctioned by Congress, and violate states’ rights to regulate public health issues.
“The reasoning is basically the same in all cases: these laws do not give the president or the relevant agency the authority to issue mandates,” said Gregory Magarian, professor of constitutional law at Washington University in St. Louis. …
The Biden administration claims its rule-making body is firm and supersedes any government policy that prohibits vaccine requirements. Recent experience shows that such prescriptions usually encourage people to get vaccinated. By the time Biden’s requirement to vaccinate federal workers went into effect last month, 92% of them had received at least their first dose.
Below is a summary of some of Biden’s most radical claims for vaccines and the status of litigation over them.
LARGE BUSINESS MANDATE
What it will do: Under a regulation published on November 5 by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, businesses with 100 or more employees must require employees to be vaccinated. Otherwise, they will need to be checked weekly and wear masks while working, except for those working alone or mostly outdoors. The rule was supposed to take effect on January 4th. The requirement will affect businesses with 84 million employees, and OSHA has predicted it could save 6,500 lives and prevent 250,000 hospitalizations within six months.
Who questions: This claim is contested by the 27 state governments under the leadership of the Republicans, as well as conservative and business groups, as well as some individual businesses. States have mostly filed lawsuits in groups, although Indiana has disputed them alone. Their argument is that the states, not the federal government, should decide public health measures. The Biden administration claims the measure is legal. Some unions have also challenged this rule, although not for the same reasons as Republicans and the business group. They say this is not enough to protect the workers.
Where it stands: The rule is suspended. A day after the states challenged the rule, a three-judge panel of the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans blocked it. At first it was a temporary suspension, then a more permanent one. The lawsuits were initially filed in various US courts of appeal. Subsequently, the cases were merged into a randomly selected court – the 6th US District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
What’s next: Biden’s administration asks 6th arrondissement to repeal 5th arrondissement order and authorize vaccine demand. In the meantime, OSHA has suspended the rule. The suing groups want all 6th Circuit judges to decide, not a panel of just a few of them.
What he will do: According to a rule published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid on November 5, a wide range of health care providers receiving federal Medicare or Medicaid funding were required to require workers to receive their first dose of COVID-19. vaccination by December 6 and full vaccination by January 4. The rule will affect more than 17 million workers in approximately 76,000 health care facilities and home health care providers.
Who Challenges It: The rule has been challenged in four separate lawsuits filed by Republican states, mostly in groups. Florida and Texas have their own problems. The states argued that there was no basis for the emergency rule, that the CMS did not have clear legal authority to issue a mandate, and that this rule violated the obligations of states.
Where it stands: The rule is suspended. On Monday, a Missouri-based federal judge issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting enforcement in the 10 states that originally filed the lawsuit. The next day, a federal judge from Louisiana also issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the rest of the states from enforcing the law.
What’s next: Both court decisions are being appealed by the Biden administration. The case in Missouri is pending at the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. The case, brought in Louisiana by a coalition of 14 states, is pending in the fifth arrondissement. So far, there have been no steps to consolidate the complaints in one court.
FEDERAL CONTRACTOR MANDATE
What it will do: In accordance with Biden’s Sept. 9 decree, federal government contractors and subcontractors are required to adhere to workplace safety regulations developed by the federal task force. The task force issued guidelines on September 24 requiring federal contractors to ensure that their employees are fully vaccinated by December 8. There are limited exceptions for medical or religious reasons. Requirements can apply to millions of employees.
Who disputes it: The Guidelines have been challenged in more than a dozen lawsuits, including seven by states or Republican-led coalitions of states. The arguments are similar to those against other vaccine requirements, arguing that the Biden administration overstepped the procurement rule mandated by Congress, violated state responsibilities, and did not receive due public comment.
Status: On Tuesday, a Kentucky federal judge issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting enforcement of vaccination requirements for contractors in three states that are collectively suing Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. Judges in Mississippi and Washington refused to block compliance; the issue is pending before other courts.
What’s next: Litigation pending in several other states could lead to additional adjudications this month on requests for injunctions. The Kentucky decision is also open to appeal. With the exception of a nationwide court order, the requirements for contractors can be ambiguous depending on the states in which they work.
Federal contractor claims are unlikely to be consolidated quickly.