Federal Appeals Court Temporarily Blocks Biden Administration Vaccine Rules for Private Employers

New Orleans-based court says Covid-19 vaccination and testing rules raise grave legal issues

A federal appeals court on Saturday temporarily blocked the Biden administration’s new rules that require many employers to ensure that their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly for Covid-19.

A three-judge panel on the New Orleans-based Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay prohibiting enforcement of the rules for now, saying they raise “grave statutory and constitutional issues.”

The Fifth Circuit said it would quickly consider whether to issue an injunction against the vaccine and testing requirements, ordering the Biden administration to file initial legal papers by late Monday afternoon.

The rules, issued by the Labor Department on Thursday, apply to employers with more than 100 workers. Lawsuits challenging the requirements have been filed in courts around the country. Plaintiffs in the case before the Fifth Circuit include both private employers and a group of Republican state attorneys general.

Seema Nanda, the Labor Department’s top legal adviser, said the administration was confident in its authority to issue the standard and was fully prepared to defend it in court.

“The Occupational Safety and Health Act explicitly gives OSHA the authority to act quickly in an emergency where the agency finds that workers are subjected to a grave danger and a new standard is necessary to protect them,” Ms. Nanda said in a statement.