The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments against the Biden administration’s workplace vaccine and testing rules, which, if implemented, could affect more than 84 million Americans.
The Biden administration rule, as LegalReader.com has reported before, was formally issued in The Federal Register on Friday, November 5th.
The rule requires any employer with 100 or more workers to ensure that their employees are either vaccinated against the novel coronavirus or are submitted to weekly testing.
While the rule was published in November, it will not take effect until January 4, 2021.
Some businesses—including lobbying groups representing the retail, trade, and trucking industries—say that the administration’s vaccine mandate will hurt their bottom line and cause losses amidst a period of ongoing economic hardship.
Large companies and corporate lobbyists have already won a preliminary victory against the Biden administration, after a 5th Circuit panel called the rule “a one-size-fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces (and workers).”
Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, for instance, said it seemed strange that truck drivers might be forced into regular testing, despite spending most of their workdays alone.
“All else equal, a 28 year-old trucker spending the bulk of his day in the solitude of his cab is simply less vulnerable to COVID-19 than a 62 year-old prison janitor,” Engelhardt wrote. “Likewise, a naturally immune unvaccinated worker is presumably at less risk than an unvaccinated worker who has never had the virus.”
According to National Public Radio, the 6th Circuit was selected as the venue for vaccine mandate challenges after lawsuits were filed in several different federal appeals courts.
N.P.R. notes that the process resembles a Powerball drawing: a dozen ping-pong-type balls were placed into a wooden drum, with each representing a different appeals court. On Tuesday, the “winning” ball was drawn for the 6th Circuit, which covers the states of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
The Biden administration has pledged to vigorously defend the rule, which would be enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration if and when it does take effect.
The White Has, for instance, insisted it has the authority to act in an emergency to protect workers facing “grave danger” on the job.
OSHA has tentatively estimated that the rule could save 6,500 lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations.
Despite the mandate’s uncertain future, the White House has requested that employers begin preparing for compliance, including a December 6 deadline to identify which employees have been vaccinated.
N.P.R. suggests that, even if the 6th Circuit makes a quick decision, its verdict will likely be appealed by the losing side—meaning that it could take weeks, or even months, for American employers and American workers to know where the nation will stand on vaccine and testing rules come January.