DOJ says it will 'vigorously defend' Biden OSHA COVID-19 vaccine mandate in court

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) says it will “vigorously defend” the guidelines laid out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which seek to enforce vaccine requirements on all businesses with 100 employees or more by Jan. 4, 2022.

Following the Friday decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a stay on the OSHA order a DOJ spokesperson said the Biden administration would fight back.

Merrick Garland, U.S. attorney general, during a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. Today the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned two ransomware operators and a virtual currency exchange network that launder the proceeds of ransomware. Photographer: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
(Photographer: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“This decision is just the beginning of the process for review of this important OSHA standard,” a spokesperson told Fox News. “The Department will continue to vigorously defend the standard and looks forward to obtaining a definitive resolution following consolidation of all of the pending cases for further review.” 

Last week, the appeals court granted an emergency stay on the OSHA orders, blocking them from taking effect. 

The Biden administration countered the move and argued the court’s decision could “cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day.”

“With the reopening of workplaces and the emergence of the highly transmissible Delta variant, the threat to workers is ongoing and overwhelming,” lawyers representing the administration argued in court filings. 

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 16: U.S. President Joe Biden pauses while giving remarks on the worsening crisis in Afghanistan from the East Room of the White House August 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden cut his vacation in Camp David short to address the nation as the Taliban have seized control in Afghanistan two weeks before the U.S. is set to complete its troop withdrawal after a costly two-decade war. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

But Judge Kurt Engelhardt said concern over economic uncertainty and opposition to a sweeping vaccine mandate meant the stay was in the public’s best interest.

“The public interest is also served by maintaining our constitutional structure and maintaining the liberty of individuals to make intensely personal decisions according to their own convictions – even, or perhaps particularly, when those decisions frustrate government officials,” he wrote.

At least 27 courts filed challenges in a move to block the Nov. 4 federal vaccine mandate.

President Biden first announced his intent to enforce vaccine requirements in September as the U.S. continued to see increasing coronavirus cases with the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

In announcing his executive order the president said “our patience is wearing thin” in reference to the people who have refused to get the coronavirus vaccine. 

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a virtual Covid-19 Summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. Biden is calling for 70% of the world to be vaccinated by this time next year during the summit that’s intended to spur countries, businesses and organizations to set firm targets to defeat the coronavirus pandemic. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images 
(Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The U.S. has reported over 46.7 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began, with 757,000 deaths. 

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a 7-day rolling average of more than 73,000 new cases confirmed daily – a figure comparable to caseloads reported in February before the vaccine was widely available. 

Roughly 68% of Americans are fully vaccinated and data by the CDC has shown that those who are not vaccinated are 11 times more likely to die if they contract the virus.  

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