AP EXPLAIN: Should employers follow Biden’s vaccine mandates? | News, Sports, Jobs
By DAVID A. LIEB and GEOFF MULVIHILL Associated Press
Tens of millions of workers across the United States are in limbo as federal courts have rendered various decisions regarding President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine warrants for large private companies, some healthcare workers and federal government contractors.
A federal appeals panel cleared a vaccine requirement for employers with 100 or more workers, although Republican attorneys general, professional associations and conservative groups have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. A vaccine mandate for companies that have contracts with the federal government is suspended nationwide, while a separate mandate for health care workers who work for providers who receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding has been blocked in half of the states.
Courts are responding to lawsuits brought by Republican-led states, conservative groups, and some businesses. They argue in part that vaccine requirements undermine states’ rights to regulate public health matters. Numerous legal challenges are ongoing, some involving groups of states and others filed by states acting alone.
The Biden administration’s separate vaccine mandates for federal and military employees remain in effect, as do mask requirements for airline passengers and people using public transportation.
The legal cases are about whether the federal government can force employers to require vaccinations. Courts have generally accepted the demands that businesses and universities have put in place themselves – as well as those imposed by state and local governments.
More than four-fifths of adults nationwide have already received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. But Biden argues that his various vaccine mandates for the workforce are an important step in increasing vaccination rates and containing the outbreak of the virus, which has killed more than 800,000 people in the United States.
Opponents have taken a three-tiered approach to challenging the demands. In the lawsuits, they argue that the vaccination warrants were imposed without proper public comment, were not authorized by Congress, and infringe states’ rights to regulate public health matters.
“The reasoning across the cases is basically the same, namely that these statutes do not give the president or the agency in question the power to issue the warrants,” said Gregory Magarian, professor of constitutional law at the University. from Washington to St. Louis. .
The Biden administration maintains its regulatory authority is firm and supersedes all state policies banning vaccine requirements. Recent experience shows that such warrants generally encourage people to get vaccinated: By the time a Biden requirement for federal workers to be vaccinated went into effect in late November, 92% had received at least their first dose of the vaccine. .
Below is an overview of some of Biden’s most important vaccine requirements and the state of legal battles over them.
LARGE CORPORATE MANDATE
What it would do: Under a rule released by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Nov. 5, companies with 100 or more employees must require their employees to be vaccinated. If they are not, they should be tested weekly and wear masks when working, with the exception of those who work alone or primarily outdoors. The rule was due to go into effect on January 4. The requirement would affect businesses with 84 million employees in total, and OSHA predicted it could save 6,500 lives and prevent 250,000 hospitalizations over six months.
Who disputes it: The requirement is being challenged by 27 state governments led by Republicans, some conservative and business groups, and some individual companies. States have primarily pursued class actions, although Indiana has challenged it on its own. Their arguments include that it is up to the states, not the federal government, to take care of public health measures. The Biden administration maintains that the measure is legal. Some unions also challenged the rule, but not for the same reasons Republicans and the business group did. They say it does not go far enough to protect workers.
Where it is: The OSHA rule is allowed to take effect, at least for now. On December 17, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 6th Court of Appeals cleared the warrant, overturning a decision of a New Orleans-based 5th Circuit panel of judges. The legal challenges were originally filed in various US appellate courts. The cases were then grouped into the 6th Cincinnati-based Circuit, which was selected at random.
What happened next: Republican attorneys general, business associations and several conservative groups immediately appealed the 6th Circuit’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the meantime, OSHA has announced that it will not issue citations until Jan.10 for its vaccination mandate or Feb.9 for its testing requirement to give employers time to adjust.
HEALTH OFFICER MANDATE
What it would do: Under a rule released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid on November 5, a wide range of health care providers who receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding were to demand that workers receive the first dose of ” a COVID-19 vaccine before December 6 and be fully vaccinated by January 4. The rule would affect more than 17 million workers in around 76,000 healthcare facilities and home care providers.
Who challenges it: The rule has been challenged in four separate lawsuits filed by Republican-led states, mostly as a group. Florida and Texas have mounted their own challenges. States argued that there was no reason for an emergency rule, that CMS had no clear legal authority to issue the warrant, and that the rule infringed on the responsibilities of States.
Where is it: The rule is on hold nationwide, but a Dec. 15 decision gives it the option to move forward in about half of the states. A Missouri-based federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on Nov. 29 barring its application in 10 states that initially filed a lawsuit. The next day, a Louisiana-based federal judge issued a preliminary injunction barring execution in the rest of the states. But on the 15th of December, that was limited to proceedings in this court. And on December 15, a federal judge in Texas granted an injunction that only applies to that state. After the decisions, the warrant may be executed in 25 states where no injunction is in place. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid have not said whether they will go this route.
Next step: The court rulings are being appealed by the Biden administration. On December 16, the administration asked the Supreme Court to block lower court orders that prevent the warrant from coming into effect in about half of the states. The Missouri case is being heard by the St. Louis-based 8th United States Court of Appeals. The Louisiana case, which was brought by a coalition of 14 states, is being examined by the 5th Circuit. So far, nothing has been done to consolidate the challenges before a single court.
FEDERAL CONTRACTOR MANDATE
What would he do: Under an executive order issued by Biden on September 9, federal contractors and subcontractors are required to adhere to workplace safety guidelines developed by a federal task force. This task force then issued guidelines requiring that new, renewed or extended contracts include a clause requiring employees to be fully immunized on January 18. This meant those who received a two-dose vaccine had to receive their second injection by January 4. There are limited exceptions. for medical or religious reasons. The requirements could apply to millions of employees.
Who disputes: The guidelines have been challenged in more than a dozen lawsuits, including seven brought by states or coalition of states led by Republicans. The arguments are similar to those against other vaccine warrants, claiming the Biden administration exceeded government procurement regulatory powers granted by Congress, violated states’ responsibilities, and did not properly garner commentary. public.
Where it is: The rule is pending. A Georgia federal judge ruled on Dec. 7 banning the requirement for contractors nationwide. The decision came a week after a Kentucky judge banned the requirement from being enforced in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.
Next step: Ongoing legal challenges in several other states could lead to additional decisions on injunction requests. The decisions of Kentucky or Georgia could also be subject to appeal.
A rapid consolidation of the lawsuits of federal contractors seems unlikely.