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Biden’s business vaccine mandate on hold amid volley of lawsuits

States, businesses, and religious institutions are challenging the unusual rule in court


A worker prepares a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pa. Associated Press/Photo by Matt Rourke, file

Biden’s business vaccine mandate on hold amid volley of lawsuits

A sweeping Biden administration vaccine mandate set to take effect on Jan. 4 was barely out of the gate last week before a federal appeals court put it on hold.

In a brief order, a three-judge panel of the New Orleans–based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily halted the directive on Saturday, citing “grave statutory and constitutional issues.” The three Republican-appointed judges ordered expedited filing, with the government’s brief due by Monday and the challengers’ reply by Tuesday.

The rule requiring all companies with 100 or more employees to develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy would have affected more than half of the private sector workforce. In issuing the 153-page rule, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sidestepped usual federal rule-making procedures, which require a lengthy public comment and consideration period. The agency instead published the mandate on Friday as an emergency temporary standard.

Under the rule, employers can require regular COVID-19 testing and masks at work in lieu of vaccination. A single violation carries a standard penalty of $13,653, but that increases if there are multiple violations in a workplace.

OSHA’s Thursday morning announcement of the requirement kicked off a flood of challenges. Within minutes, conservative news outlet The Daily Wire filed a petition asking a federal appeals court based in Nashville to review the rule.

On Friday, Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of several religious organizations, including Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools in South Dakota, the Christian Employers Alliance, and the Home School Legal Defense Association. Eleven Republican-governed states joined the suit, led by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. 

Because of a stipulation in federal law about challenges to emergency temporary standards, all of the lawsuits will be heard first in the appellate circuit courts. Once all the challenges are filed, a random process will consolidate them for review.

The cases include one from Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, along with schools and businesses from those states. ADF also filed suit for Kentucky-based Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) and Asbury Theological Seminary, highlighting concerns about the mandate’s impact on Christian ministries. And Texas-based First Liberty Institute sued separately in another federal appeals court on behalf of three prominent ministries—Daystar Television Network, the American Family Association, and Answers in Genesis.

“It is unacceptable for the government to force religious institutions to become coercive extensions of state power,” said SBTS President and WORLD Opinions editor Albert Mohler. “This seminary must not be forced to stand in for the government in investigating the private health decisions of our faculty and employees in a matter involving legitimate religious concerns.”

Mohler said the seminary as a matter of policy strongly encourages students and employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine but does not mandate it, advising consultation with a personal physician.

California attorney Harmeet Dhillon, who represents The Daily Wire along with ADF, in a Thursday news conference questioned the necessity of the rule: “We are no longer in a pandemic, we are in an endemic situation, and there is no emergency that requires the Biden administration to skip over the normal rulemaking process to implement this radical takeover of the American workplace.”

The OSHA mandate comes on the heels of a similar directive requiring vaccines for federal employees and contractors. That rule faces multiple court challenges and could stymie an economic recovery already imperiled by supply chain disruptions, inflation, and a declining workforce.

For religious ministries, the lawsuits are not about whether the COVID-19 vaccines are good, but about religious and personal liberty, said ADF’s Ryan Bangert: “If we cede to the federal government the power to make our private healthcare decisions for us, what’s next?”


Steve West

Steve is a legal correspondent for WORLD. He is a graduate of World Journalism Institute, Wake Forest University School of Law, and N.C. State University. He worked for 34 years as a federal prosecutor and is now an attorney in private practice. Steve resides with his wife in Raleigh, N.C.

@slntplanet

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DWES4537

So it appears that GOVERNMENT (OSHA) gets to make an "emergency" standard mandating companies to force their employees to get an ineffective vaccine and presumably quarterly boosters for life. This "emergency" may have been caused by government funding of gain of function work in China. The virus has killed thousands because the GOVERNMENT NIH, FDA wont approve treatment that many doctors have found to be very effective in treating covid. It appears that government is the problem, not a solution. We all know how it ends because it is written but it doesn't mean that we should help usher it in either. https://doctorsandscientistsdeclaration.org/original/

FIMIKIDWES4537

That's a bit of an unfair accusation. The NIH publishes a number of treatments for covid, including Ivermectin.

https://www.covid19treatmentguidelines.nih.gov/therapies/antiviral-therapy/ivermectin/

The reason Ivermectin hasn't been officially approved by the FDA is that there's a high degree of doubt as to how much it does indeed help. The study showing the greatest benefit was recently retracted due plagiarized content and duplicated data that inflated the results, and there are concerns that other Ivermectin studies share the same problems. Unfortunately the highest quality studies also show the weakest benefits for Ivermectin - about 10%.

https://www.researchsquare.com/article/rs-1003006/v1

Since Ivermectin is generally well tolerated most doctors I know of don't see much harm in using it, but it would be a failure of the FDA's responsibility for them to approve it without more research.

The high level federal mandates on the other hand - that's another story: an example of government overreach and politicians desperate to be seen as "doing something" about a crisis regardless of the legality of their actions.

DWES4537FIMIKI

A drug study can cost 10 to 20 million dollars. Who will be willing to foot that bill for a generic drug? No one is probably the answer and here- in lies the problem.
There are 13000 doctors and scientists all over the world that say current therapeutics are working very well, but the FDA won’t approve without further research which may never happen(see above). So we just let people die or inject a vaccine that has had NO LONG TERM STUDIES. In what universe does that make any sense? Is this the love of many waxing cold?

FIMIKIDWES4537

Governments, mostly - often in private/public partnerships. There are many completed and ongoing trials all round the world investigating generic drugs and therapeutics. There's a large, high quality trial for ivermectin going on right now, called ACTIV-6:

https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04885530

Here's a summary of other therapeutics studied under the ACTIV program. Note all the ones labeled as "Repurposed":

https://www.nih.gov/activ/nih-funded-activ/activ-associated-clinical-trials

And there are many more - though as mentioned some are less rigorous than these. Unfortunately many drugs that showed some promise in petri-dish lab studies (like hydroxychloroquine) didn't pan out in trials. A negative result from a trial doesn't indicate a conspiracy, it just means that real-life is messy and doesn't always work out the way we expect or hope.

To me, preventative medicine (i.e. vaccines) is usually preferable to treatments. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! When I read about the mechanisms by which some of these antivirals work, I'm amazed that people who feel squeamish about mRNA technology think that these therapeutics would be preferable. But I can understand why some find it harder to pay the cost upfront (via the risk of injury from a vaccine) than wait in the hope that one never has to deal with the problem (covid complications). The biggest problem with most of the treatments is that they need to be initiated early on and aren't as effective once sever symptoms set it. That's not a problem with the Phizer antiviral that's coming next year. Once that's widely available then these sweeping government vaccine mandates, which were already pretty sketchy, will really be outdated.

But in the meantime please don't let overzealous authorities' abuse of a good thing lead you to doubt its helpfulness.

DWES4537FIMIKI

Excellent to see studies are being done. Meanwhile people die. I did read one of the hydroxychloroquine studies and in the study hcl was the only drug given. Doctors that treated successfully with hcl used hcl as one part of a drug regimen not as a stand alone, and as such the study was essentially useless. It is frustrating to see our local doctors treat 7000 covid patients with only 3 deaths while the local hospital killed hundreds. I am not anti-vaccine, but so many were killed because the powers that be ignored successful treatment. ( World you may include yourself in this group). I would love to add links but it is all available if you look. The Desert Review has many of them.

FIMIKIDWES4537

One thing worth considering is that if you need to be hospitalized for covid, most of the treatments in question are already going to be much less effective, so it shouldn't be surprising to see a higher mortality rate at hospitals. The needs and demands of outpatient care done by doctors can't be fairly compared to inpatient care for the very sick done by hospitals. Hospitals are also very risk averse institutions. If they try something that hasn't been approved and it doesn't work or goes sideways, they can be sued for millions and while an individual doctor can weigh the odds and make those kinds of calls, large institutions will just lay down inflexible policies to mitigate the chance of a rogue doctor bankrupting the entire hospital.

But to your point there's a very real faction of vaccine enthusiasts (usually politicians or media personalities) who fear that any suggestion of treatment will cause people to ignore the vaccine and so they denigrate anyone advocating for effective treatments. I don't understand folks who want to pit treatment vs prevention against each other. Even if vaccination is the most effective way to reduce the risk of covid, it's certainly not perfect, and thus you need good treatment options. Fortunately most people I know in the healthcare world are very eager to learn about solid treatment options and do all they can within the constraints of the systems they work in to care for the patients under them.

DWES4537FIMIKI

Completely agree, we always prefer to treat with vaccines over drug regimes, however the vaccine must be reliable for the virus being treated with few or no side affects.
My bigger issue is with federal agencies and the media ignoring drug treatments that were well known early in the outbreak. Instead Remdesivir and intubating we’re used in hospitals which should be called malpractice.(had a friend die from this protocol). Several friends in high risks categories used the drug regime under doctors care and all walked away.
It is a sad day when your doctors tell you the last place to go with covid is the hospital.