A federal appeals court on Friday night reinstated President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private companies with more than 100 workers, reversing lower court rulings and setting up a likely showdown before the U.S. Supreme Court.
A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration had the authority to Impose the mandate due to take effect Jan. 4.
“Given OSHA’s clear and exercised authority to regulate viruses, OSHA necessarily has the authority to regulate infectious diseases that are not unique to the workplace,” the court concluded in its majority opinion.
Within an hour of the decision, the small business group Job Creators Network filed an appeal to the high court, saying the appeals judges “irresponsibly upheld an illegal rule.”
“This mandate adds an incredible burden on small business owners who are still suffering negative effects of the pandemic,” the group said. “This mandate will make it even harder for small business owners to find and keep employees.”
The ruling came after several challenges from GOP-led states and conservative and business groups were consolidated before the Cincinnati-based 6th circuit.
The decision was supported by one Democrat-appointed judge and one Republican appointee and opposed by the third judge, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge told The Associated Press she would immediately appeal to the Supreme Court.
“The Sixth Circuit’s decision is extremely disappointing for Arkansans because it will force them to get the shot or lose their jobs,” she said.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, tweeted he was confident the mandate would be blocked by the justices.
“We will go immediately to the Supreme Court- the highest court in the land- to fight this unconstitutional and illegal mandate,” he said. “The law must be followed and federal abuse of power stopped.”