In the filing, the Justice Department said the petitioners’ legal objections were unfounded and denied their allegation that the OSH authority to issue this vaccine mandate was an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power. As the states and private companies seek emergency relief, the department argued, “most of their alleged damages are free for at least a month, and much of their alleged damages relate to a testing requirement that won’t go into effect until January 2022”.
OSHA rule allows employees to remain unvaccinated if they so choose, but employees must present verified negative tests to their employers at least weekly and wear face masks in the workplace.
The Justice Department is calling on the 5th District to lift its administrative suspension so that the lawsuit can proceed in the manner determined by Congress. The 10-day process, the department argued in its filing, would take a long time before an employee could get a vaccine.
“We think people shouldn’t wait,” Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. “Don’t wait to take steps to keep your job safe. It is important and critical to do so, and waiting until more people are vaccinated will lead to more outbreaks and disease.”
“The Department of Labor has a responsibility to and the legal authority to do so for workers’ safety,” she added.
In a brief order on Saturday, a three-person appellate body said the petitioners in the case “give rise to the belief that there are serious legal and constitutional problems with the mandate”.
The court said it would expedite the case and did not state whether its order would have nationwide effects or would only apply to the states under its jurisdiction.
The Biden government announced last week that its vaccine regulations for private companies with 100 or more employees, certain healthcare workers, and federal contractors will come into effect next year. A number of GOP-led states have filed legal challenges against the rule and it appears that there is an intense legal battle ahead of the implementation dates.
The rule has two deadlines: companies must request masks and tests for unvaccinated employees from December 4th and require vaccinations or weekly tests by January 4th.
This story was updated on Monday with additional developments.