Lawsuits challenging the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for workplaces will be consolidated in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, a federal judicial panel ruled Tuesday.
The move lumps together 34 lawsuits looking to overturn the Occupational Safety and Health Administration‘s Nov. 5 order for organizations with 100 or more workers.
The mandate, an “emergency” measure set to take effect on Jan. 4, has come under fire from religious and secular employers. The religious entities say they have conscience objections to being deputized as government agents to enforce the requirement; private secular employers have complained about costs and workforce disruptions.
The rules require either proof of vaccination for each worker or mandatory masking and weekly testing of those without the jab.
“The Biden administration’s decision to mandate vaccines through an OSHA emergency rule is unlawful and compels employers like our clients to intrude on their employees’ personal health decisions,” said attorney Ryan Bangert of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian public interest law firm representing several faith-based plaintiffs.
“We are pleased to have two pivotal cases in the 6th Circuit in addition to our cases in other circuits, and we look forward to continuing our litigation to ensure that no private employer is compelled to become an agent of the government for the purpose of forcing their employees into a medical procedure,” Mr. Bangert added.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday continued its stay of the vaccine mandate, with a slashing opinion declaring the federal mandate “grossly exceeds OSHA’s statutory authority.”
Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, writing for the panel, called the OSHA order “a one-size-fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces (and workers) that have more than a little bearing on workers’ varying degrees of susceptibility to the supposedly ‘grave danger’ the Mandate purports to address.”
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told “Fox News Sunday” that keeping the mandate would “protect workers” and “ultimately help us” in the fight against COVID-10 “it would be a setback for public health” if federal courts continue to block the OSHA rule, he said.
Neither the Labor Department nor the Justice Department had immediate responses when The Washington Times sought comment on the consolidation decision.